By Alex Zhu. Edited by Arjun Chandrasekar.
Humans have been on a search for sustainable energy for nearly half a millennium, with the earliest forms of sustainable energy coming from windmills. We’ve heard a lot of talk about this growing form of reusable and long-lasting energy in the news and modern-day research studies, but what exactly is sustainable energy? Well, simply put, sustainable energy is energy that can be produced and used in a way that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability for the future to meet their needs. For hundreds of years, humans have used non-sustainable energy sources such as coal, natural gas, and oil, which have polluted our world. For example, in 2019, “about 46% of U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions came from burning petroleum fuels[…]” This increase in bad natural gases has contributed to the rising rates of global warming. So by diversifying our energy supplies in sustainable forms, we can lower the demand for natural gasses and coal leading to positive environmental impacts.
In recent history, there have been multiple scientific breakthroughs in the field of sustainable energy that can lead to a world relying on renewable energy by 2050. Two highly promising renewable energy sources that could be powering our future are biomass and water.
Biomass biofuel, is a type of energy sourced from living as well as dead organisms. This type of energy can come from pretty much anything including plants and food waste. Biomass is versatile, meaning in can be transformed and converted into liquid fuels which are important in all vehicles. The two most common types of biofuel today are bioethanol and biodiesel. Bioethanol is a biofuel produced as a byproduct from fermentation, and biodiesel is a form of diesel fuel which is sourced from living plants and animals. Other than biofuel and biomass, bioenergy provides for biopower, which is energy for heat and electricity, and for bioproducts, which are the commodities made from biomass.
Hydropower or water power is power produced from the energy of fast moving water. The volume of water flow and the fall (change in elevation from one point to another) determine the amount of energy available. This form of sustainable energy uses water to power machinery and to make heat/electricity. Because water is the fuel in this case, this form of sustainability will never be reduced or used up in the process as there will always be an endless cycle of water. Once water is turned into electricity, it’s called hydropower. On road trips you’ve probably seen huge turbines and generator, which are likely the ones that convert energy into useable electricity in homes, businesses, offices, etc.
Relation to Stock Market
With investors pouring money into renewable energy stocks, driving the prices up, people have come up with the phrase “The Green Bubble”. The green Bubble is a theory that the world is facing an over-investment on renewable energy stocks, which can possibly become a huge setback for the sustainable energy industry. Many investors believe in sustainable energy to be the long-term, as it’s an efficient and productive solution to help solve the rising rates of our global climate crisis and will provide us a safe, clean future.