Renewable energy and electricity demands

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Torstai 21.10.2021 klo 13:52 - Mikko Nikinmaa

Bitcoins, electric cars and other vehicles, green hydrogen production, household appliances, heating and cooling of apartments with electricity etc. The list of places/appliances where electricity is needed is increasing almost daily. Because of this, it is estimated that the use of fossil fuels will increase for several years to produce enough energy for electricity generation.

A climate change-conscious person buys an electric car thinking that doing it will decrease carbon dioxide emissions. However, it only does that, if electricity production is fossil-free, and because of the increasing electricity needs and simultaneous decrease of energy production using nuclear power plants, a large portion of electricity is produced using fossil fuels. In most countries with high energy consumption, most electricity is still produced using fossil fuels. Although this situation is concerning, there is one silver lining: about three quarters of new electricity is produced using renewable sources. But because electricity needs increase all the time, the production from renewable sources cannot keep up with consumption increase.

Thus, the major way to both prevent energy crisis and decrease the use of fossil fuels in electricity production is to decrease electricity consumption. The first, very simple solution would be to ban bitcoins altogether. Who needs them? Bitcoin mining uses as much electricity per year as Finland and Denmark together. The second, also easily implemented solution would be to decrease lighting, when it is not needed. Technological advancements such as automatic movement and light sensors make this much easier than 50 years ago, when most streetlights were shut down because of oil crisis. With regard to neon lights, they could be automatically shut down, e.g., between 23 and 5. Third, the car use should be decreased; most of work traffic could be done with collective traffic, which could increasingly use the same principle as school taxis in Finland, i.e., have a set group of employees picked up near their homes. The cost could be partly covered by the employer, partly by the state/community and partly by the employee. The cost would probably not be higher than for driving to work today. Fourth, do we really need all the electric appliances we are using? The manufacturers have actually done a good job in decreasing the energy consumption of household machines, but we are having more and more of them. Fifth, presently the dream of using green hydrogen as fuel is problematic, since it requires a large amount of electricity. Current research is trying to overcome this problem by splitting water to hydrogen and oxygen directly with the use of sunlight.

There are thus multiple ways to decrease the consumption of electricity, and many could be implemented immediately so that fossil fuel use could be diminished faster than planned. Ultimately, renewable energy must fulfill the electricity production completely. One almost infinite energy source is almost always forgotten: tidal energy. If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on that it becomes a major energy source within the next twenty years.

Avainsanat: climate change, tidal energy, bitcoin mining, fossil fuels

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