Think Beyond: Is your solar and wind energy really “green?”

Think Green


“Think Green and Walk Green”

“Green waves” are sweeping across the East and West, South and North. Energy efficiency and sustainability are the new mantra of the humanity that seeks to compensate for the harm it has done to Mother Earth. Renewable energy sources like solar and wind are hailed as the panacea for all issues on earth.

Ozzie Zehner, a visiting scholar at the University of California, is bringing the attention of the world to the real facts behind renewable energy. According to Zehner, the hype around green energy is not alone sufficient to cure the climate problems. Instead humanity should redirect its focus on the impacts of growing human population and consumption.

According to Zehner, there is no such thing as clean energy, but there is such a thing as less energy.  No renewable technologies existing on earth are 100 percent clean – whether it’s solar, wind, electric vehicle, biofuel or others.

Zehner reminds us that solar cell industry is one of the fastest growing emitters of virulent greenhouse gases such as sulfur hexafluoride, which has a global warming potential 23,000 times higher than CO2, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The fact is clear: alternative energy technologies rely on fossil fuels for mining operations, fabrication plants, installation, ongoing maintenance and decommissioning.  Further due to the unpredictable electrical output of renewable energy sources, they have to rely on fossil fuel plants to be running alongside them at all times.

Renowned economist Paul Krugman, in his “Renewable Energy’s Not-So-Bright Side” Op-Ed piece claims he is skeptical about the affordability of “running an all- renewable economy.”

Zehner favors Krugman’s argument saying alternative energy technologies cannot stand on their own, and they will be better understood as a product of fossil fuels.

Despite these findings the renewable industry is busy integrating solar panels and other green technologies using toxic materials. It’s the responsibility of the stakeholders to address these issues on an urgent basis.

A “green technology,” according to Greentech Lead, should be self-sustainable. True, it is difficult to altogether avoid relying on fossil fuels for energy generation. However, the industry should work out ways to reduce the emissions from the materials and manufacturing process.

Currently solar and wind technologies are going through a lot of innovation. It’s time for the industry to think about these issues. The R&D efforts in solar and wind should not only focus on improving energy output but also on reducing carbon footprint.  Unless the industry addresses these issues, the renewable energy concept will remain a mirage forever.

Rajani Baburajan