Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The flipside of marine renewables...

The final post from our Marine Resources students, Jirina Stehlikova:

Switching the kettle on in the morning or using a car for commuting - we need energy for everything. We take it for granted. We can’t see the consequences - for example mines, power stations and even the exhaust gas produced by an engine is ‘invisible’. Fossil fuels are not infinite and need to be substituted.

Burning fossil fuels produces CO2 which is blamed for global warming but there are controversial opinions about energy options such as biofuels. First of all, deforestation in order to grow rapeseed or palm oil for biofuel is responsible for releasing CO2 into the atmosphere again. Is this ‘saving the planet’ when introducing monocultures and reducing biodiversity is the result? What will happen to the communities and ecology.

On top of that, what is the point of planting crops for biofuels when there is so many people starving and food security is a major issue? Does the sea and it resources hold the key?

Scotland has enormous potential in generating offshore-wind, tidal or wave power. The government and the EU are legislating to make use of renewable energy and by 2020 the target is for about 50% to be sourced from renewable sources. Building the sites and producing energy should bring also jobs to coastal regions and help rural economies through energy employment.

However, there is a question what will happen to productive and biodiverse coastal zones after putting these initiatives into action. How it will be in case of farming seaweed for biofuels? How this is going to influence the environment? What about the possible erosion after the harvest? Even putting power-stations of any kind away to the ocean may not necessarily be a good thing – the consequences are largely unkown. Another problem to solve is the efficiency of tidal or wave energy plants.

The question is: wouldn’t it be better to investigate the other side? How we can cut down the amount of energy we are using? Changing society or people’s thinking is a long-term goal - we need to move towards consideration of future generations and options for a clean energy future and have energy efficiency at the heart of any strategy.

No comments:

Post a Comment