9.4. Can Renewables Meet Global Energy Demand?
When we talk about our energy future and contemplate the idea of eliminating fossil fuel combustion entirely and replacing it with cleaner renewable energy technologies, the key question everyone wants to know the answer to is:
Will renewables be enough?
The renewable resources - solar energy, wind, geothermal, biomass, hydro resources - are truly enormous. However, conversion of those resources to accessible, usable energy has a big "overhead". Creation, installation, and support of those technologies takes time, manpower, materials, and (you guessed it) more energy. The net consumable energy is what we hope to match with the existing global energy demand.
This question is very carefully addressed in the documentary "SWITCH" created by documentary director and writer Harry Lynch and Geology Professor Scott Tinker (University of Texas). The authors travel around the globe to visit the best state-of-the-art renewable and non-renewable energy facilities to understand the pros and cons of each and to put some numbers together.
Please watch the trailer below.
Video: Switch Trailer (2:24)
One good thing about this film is that it does not push a certain political agenda and avoids polarized discussion about what types of energy should or should not be pushed forward. It attempts to take an objective look at the reality of the present-day energy situation with its opportunities and challenges. Finally, and most importantly, it includes all pillars of sustainability in the discussion.
In this lesson, I ask you to watch this complete documentary (98 min) as part of your learning and provide your reflection on the discussion forum.
Please refer to the Summary and Activities page for further instruction on the Lesson 9 Discussion Forum.