The current global weather pattern that is the result of Climate Change is one of the most critical issues facing our civilization. It is a known fact that the creation of greenhouse gases expanding in volume geometrically is affecting the world climate. Such are the conditions that the world is facing now.
In this regard, the clamor for renewable sources of energy resounds louder everyday. That fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) contribute greatly to carbon emissions and thus responsible for altering the climate is already recognized. Thus, alternative sources of energy are required in order to arrest the progression of climate change are the logical steps to undertake.
So what are the alternative sources of energy?
- Hydro Generated
The alternative energy sources will have to bear the transition from fossil fueled energy generating plants so as to eventually minimize the emissions of greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change.
These are the salient points with regards to these alternative sources of energy:
- Nuclear – It has been with mankind since 1945 and there are hundreds of nuclear power plants the world over. It is a source of cheap and clean energy and no emissions (aside from steam).
The downside is that safety considerations are also critical since there have been a number of nuclear power plant accidents such as the meltdown in Three Mile Island in the U.S. in 1979, the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown in the then USSR and the recent earthquake that damaged the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in Japan.
Other considerations are waste water from the cooling units used in nuclear power fission chambers, spent nuclear fuel rods and contaminated detritus from the nuclear reactors themselves. The disposal of such wastes have yet to be solved wherein they can not affect the environment.
- Geothermal – The generation of power using geothermal energy is dates as far back as Roman times. The cost of generation is dependent on the nature of the source, the geography where it is situated and the stability of the generating vents. The main fuel which is emissions from geologically active areas are nil. Also, these are naturally occurring emissions thus not contribute greenhouse gasses that harm the environment.
The main drawback is that not all areas have active geological emissions. Thus, the exploitation of this energy source is limited geographically.
- Hydrologically Generated Power – The United Sates with its Hoover Dam demonstrated how hydro power is a strategic asset in energy generation. It made possible the growth of Southern California and Las Vegas. Egypt with its Aswan High Dam and China with its 3 Gorges Dam enabled its rapid industrialization. The energy generating aspect is not the only benefit. It also is a boon to agriculture and of course potable water for the population. It has no carbon emissions and is clean and cheap.
Like geothermal power, it is dependent on geography and also weather patterns. The hydro power plants in Mindanao are limited when the dry season sets in.
- Wind Power. The Dutch were the first proponents in harnessing wind as a power source not only for energy generation but for other industrial uses. Wind Power is clean and the main fuel costs nothing.
The drawback again is geographic in nature. It is subject to weather patterns in a particular area and cannot be replicated in other areas where weather patterns are not favorable.
- Solar – The first power source in the universe. It is unlimited and does not have greenhouse emissions. The technology has been around for decades but the manufacturing of efficient solar cells and storage cells have just been a recent innovation. In Germany and Spain, 20% of their energy is already sourced from Solar Power, followed by the United States and China. Japan is currently catching up since it has mothballed it nuclear power plants.
In the Philippines which is blessed with a climate abundant with sunlight, solar power plants and/or generation units is the logical choice in obtaining cheap and clean energy.
SM North EDSA currently holds the record of the largest mall powered by the sun. It generates 1.5 Megawatts of power for the operation of the mall. SM also is leading the way in constructing other solar power generating units with its 1.1 Megawatts SM Xiamen Mall, a .8 MW generating unit in its SM Dasmariñas mall and the 2.7 Megawatts generating unit to be finished in the SM Mall of Asia. This will all add up to 6.1 MW, a first in the Philippine private sector.
SM Malls continue to create projects that will not only benefit the environment but be part of pioneering enterprises that will make for energy self sufficiency in the country and the world.
Originally written by: Jonathan Edwards J. Olabre