Renewable Energy Essay Example


Running Out of Gas

Renewable Energy Essay: Introduction

Renewable energy, also called clean energy, comes from the lower level of carbon emission compared to traditional energy sources. Natural sources or repeated processes that emit lesser carbon are named renewable due to the repeatability of the energy obtaining procedure and lower-level harm to nature. Clean energy resources could be exampled as solar energy, wind energy, and hydrogen energy. Although it is not known by many people, renewable energy has a long history. Experience of humankind, with power actually started by renewable resources such as sunlight and wind. However, especially after the Industrial Revolution, where the use of internal combustion engines and mass production increased drastically, the Earth started to face a new issue: the amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere. After the high amount of carbon that is emitted into the atmosphere through the years, accumulated carbon started to cause the greenhouse effect, which eventually led to global warming. After all, people backed down from their desire for the highest possible efficiency for a while and started to concentrate on looking for ways to get better efficiencies of the oldest energy sources of humankind. Thus, the type of energy sources that are named as renewable energy today is actually the very first resources that humanity used back in history, but they were low-efficiency resources. Today, we are going after raising the level of efficiency of these cleaner energy resources (Shinn). The focus of this paper will be the replacement of internal combustion engines with a new type of engine such as hybrid, electric, or hydrogen engines.

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Internal Combustion Engines

The principle of the traditional internal combustion engine is burning the correct amount of mixture of fuel and air. This type of engine is called as internal combustion since ignition, and the following combustion literally happens inside the engine. The engine converts the energy released by the chemical process into mechanical energy at a rate of relatively high efficiency with the help of the piston-cylinder assembly and crankshaft system. The expanding combustion gases push the piston, which in turn rotates the crankshaft. Ultimately, through a system of gears in the powertrain, this motion drives the vehicle’s wheels.

There are several types of internal combustion engines, such as two-stroke ignition combustion engine, four-stroke ignition combustion engine, or different types of compression combustion engines, which are based on the Diesel engine invented by Rudolf Diesel. A four-stroke ignition combustion engine completes four separate strokes in each cycle. These are called: intake, compression, combustion and power stroke, and exhaust. Where air and fuel mixture inducted in piston-cylinder assembly during the intake stroke, the mixture gets compressed during the compression stroke and ignited by the spark-ignition engine. The last stroke is the exhaust, where the products of the combustion are sent out of the engine. On the other hand, Diesel engines do not include a spark plug. Instead of igniting the fuel-air mixture, Diesel engines use compression combustion by spraying the fuel into the hot compressed air at a suitable, measured rate, causing it to ignite. (Vehicle Technologies Office)

Hybrid Vehicles

A hybrid engine vehicle (HEV) is basically a type of an engine that is powered more than one kind of engines, as its name suggests. The most widely known type of HEVs are the ones that combine the power of a conventional internal combustion engine and an electric motor using a hybrid vehicle drivetrain. There is more than one type of HEVs in accordance with the aim and are of the use of the vehicle. Some HEVs are designed for acceleration, some are for performance, and some for range. There are cars designed for everyday use that use hybrid-electric technology, heavy-duty vehicles such as pickups and tractors, and busses for public transportation. All these three types of vehicles use a different setting of HEV technology with a different aim. HEVs are the most known and common vehicles since they were the first to come onto the market. As time passed and the efficiency level of electric motors has risen up, fully electric cars started to replace HEVs.

Latest HEVs benefit from efficiency-improving technologies such as regenerative brakes in order to convert the vehicle's mechanical kinetic energy to electric energy and store it in an electric component such as a battery or supercapacitor. However, earlier models of HEVs used to make use of an internal combustion engine to convert mechanical energy into electric energy at some degree of efficiency. Although this sounds inefficient, it helped to reduce fuel consumption and created a path for more developed and efficient models. This earlier model of HEV was known as a motor-generator build. Many HEVs reduce idle emissions by shutting down the engine at idle and restarting it when needed; this is known as a start-stop system. A hybrid-electric vehicle emits much less carbon into the atmosphere compared to conventional internal combustion engine vehicles, and at this point, they are offering highly comparable performance in terms of acceleration, top speed, and the total range since the engine is not used to directly drive the car, it can be geared to run at maximum efficiency, further improving fuel economy.

An example of modern HEV is Cadillac CT6. This particular masterpiece was introduced by Tim Grewe, GM’s General Director of electrification, and Pete Savagian, GM General Director of electric drives and systems engineering, as an efficient and fun-to-drive vehicle with an enormous 335kW (449 HP) power capability. CT6 accelerates from 0-60 miles (0-100 km) in just 5.6 seconds. The most crucial point is that this 5000 lb (around 2.2 tons) giant is capable of more than 37 miles (60 km) range on full electric mode. GM’s General Director of electrification Tim Grewe defines the CT6 as “we have a PHEV system that has incredible efficiency, but it is also one of the highest performing vehicles on the road with extraordinarily connected feel to it.”

“The CT6 PHEV powertrain combines a 198 kW (266 hp) 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder direct-injected gasoline engine with a two-motor, 120 kW hybrid transmission; liquid-cooled 18.4 kWh Li-ion battery; and power electronics (APM, auxiliary power module; OBCM, on-board charge module; TPIM, traction power inverter module).” (Green Car Congress)

The journey of energy efficiency in vehicles started with hybrid electric vehicles. The technique used in HEVs has changed and developed along with the efficiency of the electric motor used in the powertrain portion. The next step in-vehicle technology is fully electric vehicles. These have started their journey in a similar manner to HEVs and were improved hugely in a short time period.

Electric Motors

An electric vehicle (EV), by its widest definition, is a type of transportation device that uses an electric motor or more. EVs do not use any gasoline engine types and only uses electric motors or traction motors to get propulsion. There are several possible ways to power an electric vehicle, such as using a collector system that draws electricity from off-vehicle sources, self-contained batteries, solar panels, fuel cells, or an electric generator to convert fuel to electricity. EVs include, but are not limited to, road and rail vehicles, surface and underwater vessels, electric aircraft, and even electric spacecraft.

Electric power is not completely new to transportation, actually. It has been used since the 19th century in public transport. However, since road vehicles or bulldozers needed to be lighter in mass with higher power outputs, electric engines were not the first choice until the near past, along with the technological advancement of batteries, which are now capable of the store and deliver more power at a lower weight. Moreover, as newer technologies such as solar power and better conductors were introduced to the vehicle industry, electric-powered vehicles have walked up the stairs and became an assertive actor in the market. One of the reasons that EVs had a huge impact on the vehicle market is its promising features to decrease the negative effect of transportation on the climate. Project Drawdown describes electric vehicles as one of the 100 best contemporary solutions for addressing climate change.

As of the start of the 2000s, almost all governments started to take serious precautions against climate change. Some have limited the number of internal combustion-powered cars that could be driven in the city centers, some have limited the amount of emission of cars, some rewarded the usage of HEVs and EVs. Especially the European Union have applied great measures against the carbon emission from transportation.

As a result, the number of personal transportation means has risen up by 22% since 2016, but the level of carbon emission has been decreased. The volume of electric vehicles in the car market has risen a considerable amount in the past years, and it is expected to grow in an exponential manner in the near future.

Hydrogen Engines

A hydrogen-powered car is actually an electric car or an EV. However, this type of EV is different than other EVs and called hydrogen-powered vehicles or hydrogen engines since instead of drawing energy from a plug and storing it, the hydrogen engine produces electricity by a series of chemical reactions between hydrogen and oxygen and uses it to power the vehicle and stores the rest of the energy by the batteries that are installed on the vehicle.

Development in the technology of EV and hydrogen engines are still going on, and there are several types of each in the current market. All these engines are in the pursuit of one common goal, and it is stopping climate change. One more positive side of hydrogen engines is they run on hydrogen and oxygen, and the product of them is pure water and electricity. That is why, now, European countries such as Spain and Germany are promoting hydrogen engines (Lombrana)

As indicated before, the tailpipe exhaust of hydrogen fuel cell technology is water, and many scientists consider this engine as the future of vehicles. The better thing about the hydrogen fuel cells is they are capable of drawing in and clean dirty air as they drive along with the help of the complex air filters used in the cars, and this is why this technology is viewed as the most environmentally friendly transport option by the experts.

The Fact of Climate Change

Climate change is often mistaken for global warming. It is a global phenomenon, and global warming is the result of this phenomenon. The durations of seasons and the time that they start/end in a year change. As a result, the total amount of time the Earth receives sunlight and correspondingly the total amount of energy our planet receives from the Sun increases. And, the reason for the seasonal shift and climate exchange is the increasing carbon emission. Climate change threatens the sustainability of the planet’s ecosystems. The global phenomenon of climate transformation that puts the life on the Earth in danger is explained as “the changes in the usual climate of the planet (regarding temperature, precipitation, and wind) that are especially caused by human activities. As a result of unbalancing the weather of Earth, the sustainability of the planet’s ecosystems are under threat, as well as the future of humankind and the stability of the global economy.” (National Geographic)

NASA’s definition of climate change says that it is “a broad range of global phenomena created predominantly by burning fossil fuels, which add heat-trapping gases to Earth’s atmosphere. These phenomena include the increased temperature trends described by global warming, but also encompass changes such as sea-level rise; ice mass loss in Greenland, Antarctica, the Arctic and mountain glaciers worldwide; shifts in flower/plant blooming; and extreme weather events.”

Climate Change Definition vs. Global Warming Definition

The US Geological Survey explains the difference between “global warming is just one aspect of climate change. In fact, they say that global warming refers to the rise in global temperatures due mainly to the increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.” On the other hand, climate change refers to the increasing changes in the measures of climate over a long period of time – including precipitation, temperature, and wind patterns. Also, the latest elected president of the U.S., Biden has promised to rejoin the Paris climate agreement on his first day in office.

Impact of HEVs EVs and Hydrogen Fueled Vehicles on Climate Change

The European Union has put hydrogen at the heart of its measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% in 2030 and to become climate neutral by 2050 (European Commission).

Hydrogen engines provide replacement chances for oil, natural gas, and coal and help to eliminate about a third of emissions from industries like steel and cement by mid-century. Although, at the moment, the efficiency and availability of hydrogen and hydrogen engines are not very high, just as the EVs as they newly entered the market.

Spain plans to introduce 60 measures in order to promote hydrogen engines and establish a hydrogen supply chain. The measures will be introduced as soon as Spain builds several production plants with a capacity to make 300 to 600 megawatts of hydrogen from renewables by 2024 and 4gigawatts by 2030. That would represent 10% of the EU’s target, which is for 40 gigawatts by2030. Spain plans to start measuring hydrogen production by energy source and to review targets at least every three years.

Air pollution in London, the capital of the UK, is guessed to be caused by road transport accounts. The UK government aims to limit the sale of petrol and diesel cars in the near future and ban it all by the year 2040.

Since electric cars include just one moving part in their motors, they are also silent and does not cause sound pollution as well (European Commission).

The Luxembourg Institute of Science’s work and Technology has published a website to help you compare the overall environmental impact of electric cars vs. internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. They have an intention to ease understanding of the harm that ICEs cause and the good the electric motors do. Carbon emissions and other specs of compared motors are listed.

When it comes to the way electric cars are produced, the effect of electric cars puts them a bit behind. Producing electric EVs is both costly and takes much effort, were producing an ICE that has been produced for many years is much easier and cheap. Whatsmore, the amount of carbon emitted to the atmosphere during the production of an EV is higher than ICE. The reason is that manufacturing lithium-ion batteries, which are an essential part of an electric car, requires processing mines. More than a third of the lifetime CO2 emissions from an electric car come from the energy used to make the car itself. However, as technology develops, the odds are getting better in favor of EVs.

Recycle and repair markets for batteries of EVs is also a growing market, just as the repair market of ICEs. Research into the use of second-hand batteries is looking at ways to reuse batteries in new technologies such as electricity storage. One day we could all have batteries in our homes being used to store our own energy. Opportunities like this will reduce the lifetime environmental impact of battery manufacture. Even after taking battery manufacture into account, electric cars are still a greener option. This is due to the reduction in emissions created over the car’s lifetime. Many people question how green electricity production is required to power an electric car really is. Research by the European Energy Agency found that, even with electricity generation, the carbon emissions of an electric car are around 17 – 30% lower than driving a petrol or diesel car. The emissions from electricity generation are also dramatically improved when low carbon electricity is used. That’s good news for our customers. Here at EDF, we produce more low-carbon electricity than any other supplier in the UK(1). The electric tariff is also generated from 100% renewable sources, helping electric car drivers to make more informed choices about how they charge up, maximizing their environmental impact whilst driving.

Lastly, conventional plug-in hybrids combine an electric motor with a traditional fuel engine and produce some emissions during a drive. The green credentials of a hybrid depend on how much of the journey is driven on electric miles, as well as the way in which the vehicle is charged. This is why it's important for hybrid drivers to consider how their electricity is generated. Choose a form of renewable energy, like the GoElectric tariff, and you’re making your contribution to reducing emissions. All this shows that electric vehicles have a big role to play in reducing transport emissions and being a major factor in cleaning up the air we breathe.

Renewable Energy Essay: Conclusion

The EVs have had a good impact on environmental care, and they are improving. Now, it is the turn of the hydrogen engines. They will be in better design and more affordable by time, and they are not only air-pollution free but also cleaning the air. This way, hydrogen engines do not only offer decreasing air pollution and carbon emission by producing hydrogen and electric motors by polluting the environment less and cleaning the air at a much higher rate while driving it. According to the BP and Orsted plan green hydrogen project, the hydrogen engines are the future of the Earth and the best possibility for us to leave a better world for the next generations. According to the Washington Post, the U.S. will be properly caring about environmental policies and will help the world to go for better health. Tomorrow does not get better by just stopping the pollution, the pollution should be recovered as well.


BP and Orsted plan green hydrogen project, 2011

European Commission. Ed. Stefan DE KEERSMAECKER and Stephan MEDER. 09 Dec. 2020. Web. 09 Dec. 2020.

European Commission. “The European Green Deal”, 11. Dec.2019. E-Book. 09 Dec. 2020.

Green Car Congress. "GM's New RWD PHEV System for Cadillac CT6 Designed for Fun-to-drive High Performance as Well as Efficiency; Volt on Steroids." 19 Feb. 2016. Web. 09 Dec. 2020.

Dizard, John. "Hydrogen-based Projects Offer Jaded Green Investors Fresh Hope." Subscribe to Read | Financial Times. Financial Times, 21 June 2019. Web. 09 Dec. 2020.

Lombrana, Laura Millan. "Spain Sets a $10.5 Billion Goal for GreenHydrogen." Spain Sets a $10.5 Billion Goal for GreenHydrogen. Bloomberg, 05 Oct. 2020. Web. 09 Dec. 2020.

Shinn, Lora. "Renewable Energy: The Clean Facts." NRDC. 15 June 2018. Web. 08 Dec. 2020.

Vehicle Technologies Office. "Internal Combustion Engine Basics." Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. Oct.-Nov. 2013. Web. 08 Dec. 2020.

Wade, Will, and Jess Shankleman. "U.S. Climate Reversal Will See Biden Join World's Green Momentum - Energy News for the United States Oil & Gas Industry." U.S. Climate Reversal Will See Biden JoinWorld’s Green Momentum. 09 Nov. 2020. Web. 09 Dec. 2020.

WP Want a Green New Deal_ Here’s a better one. - The Washington Post

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