Sunday, October 21, 2007

Renewable Energy

Before reviewing the previous posts my idea was to talk primarily about geothermal energy and its overwhelming energy benefits. Once reading the posts i noticed that the one prior to mine was about a similar topic, it was a very inspiring and well written posts so i will attempt to continue on the path that was set forth by that post the best that i can.

Overall i have been extremely torn about my stance on renewable energy. When studying for the LEED examination i learned a lot about small scale renewable energy use in single building situations. From my interior design/architecture perspective it is a very costly and difficult idea to employ. Very few clients are ever interested in renewable energy sources due to cost/space/ and aesthetics, despite the tax decreases that often come with the conversion. As a member of the industry i had to agree with these concerns. I do not want to sound negative or pessimistic but i do understand the unattractive side of renewable energy, but as a conscious and aware person i realize that the way in which we consume and view energy is unacceptable and could lead to a societal demise if not modified. That being said in my confusion about renewable energy i began to research a lot of the lesser known methods and realized that not every renewable energy source has the negative effects that solar panels and wind mills do.

One source that really began to intrigue me was that of geothermal. From what i have been exposed to this is a much lesser known and less talked about renewable energy source. I realize that a large portion of this may be the fact that it can not be accomplished on an individual level. The process of digging enormous holes into the earth and building a small power plant above this hole. Although this source would need to be done at an infrastructure level i believe it has enormous potential. It has very little environmental and habitat impact and the EPA has gone as far as to call geothermal heat pumps are the most energy-efficient, environmentally clean, and cost-effective systems for temperature control. it has been found that direct use and heating applications have almost no negative impact on the environment. Geothermal power plants do not burn fuel to generate electricity, so their emission levels are very low. They release about 1 to 3 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions of a fossil fuel plant. Geothermal plants use scrubber systems to clean the air of hydrogen sulfide that is naturally found in the steam and hot water. Geothermal plants emit 97 percent less acid rain - causing sulfur compounds than are emitted by fossil fuel plants. After the steam and water from a geothermal reservoir have been used, they are reinjected back into the earth. Finally, they are fairly pleasant to look at, an issue that i must admit is very important to me and my industry perspective, at the top of this blog i included a picture from wikipedia show a series of geothermal plants in Iceland and in my perspective i think that it is a very attractive options, especially in comparison to what we have today.

I wanted to end by saying that although i am very excited about my new found knowledge about geothermal and renewable energy i do not think that it is the ultimate and only form of energy out there. I strongly believe, as with almost all topics of sustainability, a balance is needed we need to explore all forms of renewable energy and employ different forms in different situations. There will never be one answer to sustainability is is finding a complete balance a balance that is greatly foreign and needed in our energy crisis that we are faced with today.

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