Is renewable energy unreliable? and other questions about RE answered

MANILA, Philippines – The world is well aware of the dangers of climate change.

Just this March, Greta Thunberg, a 15-year-old Swedish kid, sparked a climate revolution led by children like herself around the globe. It’s dubbed as the “school strike for climate.”

Her message to political leaders: “We are facing an existential threat and there is no time to continue down this road of madness.” She’s urging countries, especially rich ones like Sweden, to start reducing emissions now.

One of the ways to cut down on emissions is by switching to renewable energy sources – which many people already know but somehow still disregard.

In a survey conducted by Rappler, majority of the respondents believe that renewable energy helps protect the environment. And not only that, they are aware that it’s more sustainable than traditional energy sources like coal.

How much better is using renewables? Well, according to a study conducted by the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), renewable energy could help reduce the electricity sector’s emissions by approximately 81%.

It’s no wonder that 78% of the respondents believe that we should get more power from and actually switch to renewable energy sources. They not only think that it’s good for the environment, they also believe that doing so can help fight climate change and is also beneficial to the community.

While most people think that renewable energy sources can power homes and communities, the respondents are still unsure whether they can rely on renewables to power commercial buildings and whole cities.23% of the respondents also feel that it’s not as strong as other traditional sources.

So are renewables really unreliable? It depends on what type.

Solar energy, for example, the most well-known type of renewable energy based on the survey, doesn’t work like traditional sources do. It’s intermittent. The energy comes from the sun, so when it’s down, electricity is also down. The same is true for wind power.

But there are lesser known renewables like geothermal that can actually do the work.

What is geothermal energy? Unlike solar, it’s not something you can source by simply setting up solar panels on the roof of your home. It comes from the heat of the earth.

Geothermal energy requires drilling water or steam wells. The hot water is then pumped and then turns into steam once it reaches the surface. It needs to go through a power plant to convert it into electricity.

Distributors like Meralco then distributes this electricity, along with electricity from other sources, to homes and businesses.

What makes geothermal more sustainable than other sources contracted by distributors? It would be difficult for geothermal to run out of resources because in the process of acquiring this type of renewable energy, the steam that condenses back to water is pumped back to the Earth to start the process again. Consistently planting more trees is also a way to secure geothermal energy sources.

And since it’s not dependent on natural forces like the sun and wind, geothermal is not intermittent. It provides power 24/7– rain or shine, all year round.

It’s not only geothermal energy itself that’s good for the environment because it’s renewable, maintaining geothermal power plants also has no negative effects on the planet. Since the power plants don’t burn fuel to generate electricity, they emit low air pollutants.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, they also emit 97% less acid rain-causing sulfur compounds and about 99% less carbon dioxide than fossil fuel power plants.

While power plants that burn fossil fuels can affect the health of the people around them – the harmful fumes and emissions can cause asthma, bronchitis and even cancer – geothermal plants cause minimal to almost zero negative impacts on health.

As we can see, geothermal is the most ideal renewable energy especially for a country like the Philippines that’s located in the Pacific Ring of Fire. We are close to 75% of all active volcanoes, making us rich in geothermal resources. That’s why the Energy Development Corporation (EDC), PH’s geothermal leader, is pushing the country to rely more on geothermal.

And as we choose to use more and more renewable energy sources like geothermal and less of the harmful, traditional sources, the Philippines, in its own way, can help in curbing the world’s climate problems.

To know more about geothermal energy, visit Geo 24/7. – Rappler.com

A NOTE ABOUT OUR SURVEYS: This survey was conducted by Rappler. In our surveys, mathematically, we aim for at least a 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error, representative of the population the survey can reach. Even then, there are limits to the veracity of the surveys we conduct and write stories about. These surveys are not incentivized and are given only to readers who visit the site when the survey is being served.

Sources:

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Energy Development Corporation

EDC is the Philippines’ largest vertically-integrated geothermal developer, delivering 1,457.8MW of clean and renewable energy to the country. To learn more, click here.

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