The Problem With Renewable Energy

The Green Room: What happens when you put two energy experts in a room and ask them what the are with renewable energy? This week, we’re playing devil’s advocate. We love renewable energy, but this weeks episode is all about understanding how it works, and what limitations we have to work around if the UK is truly going to become carbon neutral.

If you want to know more about the current state of renewable energy in the UK, go to Episode 21, where we take you through where our renewable energy actually comes from.

Without a doubt, the biggest problem with mainstream renewable energy is intermittency. Wind power is only generated when it’s windy, solar power is only generated when it’s sunny. This creates several fundamental issues.

Here’s the thing about most renewable forms of energy: they’re horribly inefficient. That’s why we need huge solar farms and hundreds of wind turbines and massive biocrop fields. One of the issues, if you think about scaling up our renewables, is where we’re going to put them.

One of the great things about renewable energy is that the sun, the wind, and water currents are all free. That means that, theoretically, these kinds of technologies are one-time costs. In reality, the initial outlay can be huge and the continued costs can be far more than you might expect.

By far the biggest argument for switching to renewable energy is that we need to save the planet and stop relying on technologies that poison our atmosphere. But what is the carbon footprint of building a wind turbine, or transporting biofuel, or disposing of a defunct solar panel? And what is the impact on the local environment?

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