Sustainable energy sources for a better future
What is sustainable energy?
Sustainable energy is not the same as renewable energy, two terms that are often confused with one another. Although both are drawing energy from sources that can be produced again and again, sustainable energy also demands that the producing and using of the energy does not have any negative consequences for the environment.
At the moment 93% of Dutch households still use energy obtained from fossil sources. Using sustainable energy sources allows us to be less dependent on these sources, which we are expected to run out of within decades. As such it is important that we focus now on sustainable solutions so that future generations won’t be left without energy.
Bredenoord places great value on moving towards a sustainable society and supports this by offering the Clear Concept product line. New sustainable alternatives are constantly added to this product line for clients who wish to work sustainably.
Which energy sources are sustainable?
Some energy sources are renewable, but not sustainable. Whether an energy source is sustainable or not depends on the impact that its production has on the environment. Are there any negative consequences for mankind or the environment? Then the energy source may be renewable, but it is not sustainable.
Bioenergy is gained from biomass. Various fuels can be created by burning or otherwise processing this organic material. These biofuels come in many forms, from gas to oil and from warmth to electricity.
Bioenergy is sustainable when it’s second generation, meaning the energy must be obtained from organic waste and materials that cannot serve another purpose. This can be of both animal and plant based origin. Garden waste, used frying fat and the inedible parts of agricultural cops are sustainable sources for obtaining bioenergy. When using the bioenergy some CO₂ will be emitted, but since this was previously taken from the air by the raw materials this emission has been compensated in advance.
Energy from biomass can also be obtained from agricultural crops. Although this source is renewable, it is not sustainable. While growing crops for creating bioenergy there might be a shortage of land for farming crops, which can sometimes result in hunger. In addition the destroying of forests to create more agricultural land is far from uncommon, which can endanger local biodiversity.
Thermal energy is sustainable when waste heat from industrial processes or energy production is converted into energy. This warmth would otherwise be lost, and by reusing this less fossil energy will be necessary.
In some countries geothermal heat is already a sustainable energy source. In this process warmth is obtained from groundwater, which is pumped to the surface from a maximum depth of 500 meters. 80% of all warmth in Iceland is obtained from geothermal energy. In the Netherlands geothermal energy is not a sustainable solution. There is still plenty of research to be done in this field, such as developing methods to reach the geothermal energy and the role our soil composition plays in this process. The installations required to obtain the energy are yet to be built, during which CO₂ would be emitted.
One of the most commonly used forms of sustainable energy in the Netherlands is solar energy. Solar energy is produced by converting sunlight captured in solar panels into energy. There is no CO₂ emission in this process. The emission during the production of the solar panels is compensated shortly after the panels are put to use.
The availability of solar energy cannot be adjusted to the energy demand. In areas with many hours of sunshine solar panels achieve a high return. Logically this return is considerably lower in areas with fewer hours of sunshine, in which case another energy source can provide more security. Pairing solar panels with a backup, such as a genset or the grit, is also an option.
Bredenoord offers two energy solutions using solar panels as part of the Clear Concept product line. Depending on the energy demand the Mobile Solar Plant or the Mini-SunBox can provide a fitting solution.
The windmill has become a common sight in the Dutch landscape. In these windmills energy is generated when the wind moves the rotor blades of the mill. This movement is converted into usable energy inside a generator. This wind energy is sustainable, as there is zero emission during this process. The CO₂ emitted during the production of the windmill is compensated within various months due to the fossil energy spared by replacing it with wind energy.
Wind energy, however cannot be adapted to the energy demand. When there’s no wind no energy can be obtained. When there’s little wind for a while another energy source must be used. Another disadvantage of windmills is the impact they have on local residents, who frequently complain about the shade cast by the mill, the sound, and the spoilt view. In addition windmills disturb the natural rhythm and habitat of various birds species.
Just like wind, running water can power a turbine. The energy released in this process is called hydropower. An important benefit of hydropower in comparison to solar energy and wind energy is that the availability of hydropower can easily be adjusted to the energy demand, although sometimes it might not be possible to meet the exact demand. Because the obtaining of hydropower is emission neutral and renewable this energy form is sustainable.