From First News A world powered by nature
Have you ever wondered what would happen if we ran out of energy? How would we watch our favourite TV programmes, cook dinner or have a hot shower? Most of the energy we use is made from ‘non-renewable’ sources, such as coal, oil and nuclear, which large power stations
turn into electricity. These types of fuels won’t last forever, and burning coal and oil gives off carbon dioxide, a gas which causes climate change. The good news is we have plenty of alternatives around us – the wind, sun and water can provide ‘renewable energy’ which will never run out and does not give off carbon dioxide so is much better for the environment.
Because renewable energy won’t run out, so we can keep using our computers, TVs and games consoles, we need to use more renewables and less energy overall.
So, what would a world powered by wind, sun or water look like? What changes might it make to your day?
Let’s think about how your day might change.
As you are woken up by your alarm clock for school, your house would wake up to the morning light. If the sun was shining, the solar thermal panels on your roof would heat the water you shower with, for free! In the kitchen your mum or dad would make breakfast with a kettle and toaster that could tell you just how much energy you are using, and where it’s coming from – maybe from solar PV panels on your roof too.
As you and your family leave the house, a ‘Smart’ energy meter would be able to tell you the amount of energy your family has used so far today and how much it has cost. On a good day your household might earn money for generating more energy than you use. Your parents might work from home to make the most of all the power you are producing.
You would get in your family’s electric car, which would have been plugged in to a socket to recharge overnight. Because the car is electric it would not give off any bad fumes and so, as well as not needing to buy petrol, you would not damage the environment as you drive. On your way to school, you would notice all the houses you pass have solar panels on their roofs; maybe a small wind turbine if they were built on a hill with a large enough garden, and some with water tanks in the gardens collecting rain water to be reused. There would be no petrol stations, but you might see battery-swapping stations instead, where you could recharge a car and swap old batteries for new.
Your school would also look different as it would be run on renewable energy too. Like your house, the roof would probably be covered in solar panels and on the hilltop behind the school would stand big wind turbines, catching the wind and turning it into electricity to power the lights and computers. Inside, the school would be heated by a biomass boiler, which burns recycled wood chips – like the one Good Energy installed at St Mary’s Primary School, Timsbury, Somerset. A renewable cooling system in the school means that in the summer it will never get too warm!
In the winter the lights in the school and street lamps outside would have motion sensors on them so that they only come on when people walked past, saving energy.
To make this renewable future possible, we need to think carefully about where our energy comes from and how we use it. Wouldn’t it be nice to know when playing on your computer or listening to a CD that the energy you’re using isn’t affecting the environment?
In the meantime, remember that most electricity is not good for the environment, so recycle, turn lights off when you’re not in the room and switch your computers and televisions off at the main switch to save energy.
Words by Juliet Davenport for Good Energy
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- New California law says one-third of electricity will come from renewable sources in 2020 (venturebeat.com)
- The 10 Most Innovative Companies in Energy (fastcompany.com)
- 2012 Games ‘misses’ energy target (bbc.co.uk)
- Renewable Energy Production May Overtake Nuclear Power This Year In US (treehugger.com)