Renewable Energy

Managing energy supply is about balancing socio-economic and environmental needs. This requires detailed planning and management.

Sustainability means meeting our needs while not compromising the capacity of future generations to meet their needs

Management challenges

How to balance the economic needs (jobs and power for industry) against the environmental need (reducing pollution) and social needs (energy equality).

Renewable energy resources

Renewable energy



Solar Power: photovoltaic systems (e.g. Japan), Solar Power Stations (e.g. California)

  • Can be small scale and meet local needs
  • Easy to install
  • Long life
  • Needs high percentage of sunny days
  • Can corrode in acid rain
  • Currently low output

Wind power (e.g. Germany)

  • Can be small scale and meet local needs
  • Ever increasing efficiency
  • Relatively inefficient
  • Eyesore – often on highland
  • Noise

Biomass: fuel wood, ethanol (e.g. Brazil), Biodiesel (e.g. Germany)

  • Can use agricultural waste
  • Anyone can grow it
  • Low-level technology so cheap to use
  • Takes over land used for food crops
  • Can cost more energy to grow and harvest
  • Vulnerable to climate and pests

Geothermal: hot springs (e.g. Iceland)

  • Cheap and 100% natural
  • Long life
  • Not controlled by weather
  • Needs heat source near the surface
  • Often in tectonically active area
  • Salts can build up and block pipes

Tidal power: barrages across estuaries (e.g. France)

  • Not controlled by weather
  • Minimal running costs once built
  • Multi-purpose schemes
  • Needs a large tidal range
  • May damage ecosystem
  • Very expensive to build
  • Can  cause silting and can disrupt wildlife

Wave energy (e.g. Scotland)

  • Can be small scale and meet local needs
  • Depends on type and frequency of waves
  • Needs deep water
  • Expensive compared to output of energy
  • High maintenance


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