A European effort to reduce reliance on Russian gas and move toward renewable energy has been set off by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with an eye on both Russian President Vladimir Putin and climate change.
When it comes to replacing Russian gas, the European Commission believes that renewable energy sources with zero emissions may be implemented this year.
What Are the Primary Oil and Gas Energy Substitutes?
New renewable energy technologies such as solar power, wind and, nuclear power are the primary alternatives to oil and gas energy.
The sun is the primary energy source for most of the world’s life. Researchers and groups all across the world are working to find a way to directly harness the sun’s energy rather than using more inefficient methods like burning fossil fuels.
174 billion megawatts of solar energy reach Earth’s upper atmosphere every day. Solar radiation is absorbed by the atmosphere, seas, and landmasses at a 3.85 x 1024 Joules rate per year, 30 percent of which is reflected back. A single hour’s worth of solar energy is enough to power the entire world’s population for an entire year. However, utilizing it will be difficult because this is a distributed rather than a concentrated form of energy.
With semiconductor solar panels, the sun’s heat and light can be used to generate electricity. Electrons on the panels are excited by the energy of the sun’s radiation, resulting in the generation of electrical energy.
Although solar energy seems to be leading the hope for a future of renewable power generation, there are some hurdles to overcome. Solar panels are one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome when it comes to harvesting the sun’s power. It costs around 8–15 cents per kilowatt-hour to generate solar power compared to 6 cents for coal-fired electricity.
One of the biggest challenges is how to store energy. Solar energy is not available at night, yet most contemporary energy systems presume that it is always available. It is possible to store solar energy using rechargeable battery arrays, thermal mass systems, and thermal storage systems as well as phase change materials and off-grid photovoltaic systems.
Solar energy is still in its infancy, despite all the advances in technology. For the time being, solar energy alone will not be enough to completely replace the most frequent energy source currently in use which is fossil fuel until we have perfected the technology and are able to capture and store solar energy more effectively.
To meet the growing global need for electricity, nuclear energy is becoming increasingly important as a clean source of power that is projected to address the issue of climate change. Although the fuel (uranium isotope 235 known as U-235) used for current nuclear power generation using the process called nuclear fission is considered non-renewable, the energy that is generated by nuclear power plants is renewable. As fossil fuel prices fluctuate and governments become more concerned about securing their energy supplies, nuclear power is becoming a more viable option.
Nuclear power plants are now functioning in 30 nations throughout the world, totaling 439. This represents 14 percent of the world’s total electricity generation. As predicted by the IAEA, global nuclear power generation capacity will rise from its current level of 372 gigawatts (GW) by 2020 to 437–542 GW and 473–748 GW by 2030 and 2050, respectively. Various issues must be resolved for nuclear power to become a dependable and clean energy source. Improvements in economic competitiveness, the design of safe and reliable nuclear power plants, management of spent fuel and the disposal of radioactive waste, the development of adequately skilled workers, public faith in nuclear power, and nuclear non-proliferation and security are just a few examples.
Splitting (fission) or merging (fusion) the nuclei of two or more atoms generate nuclear energy. Uranium is commonly used in nuclear fission as a fuel to generate electricity. At present consumption rates, the uranium in the Earth’s crust can sustain humanity for around a century. Scientists expect global energy use to triple over the next century; thus, our uranium supply will only endure for 30 years, according to their estimates. Spent fuel reprocessing is one possibility. The plutonium in this spent fuel can be recycled into a mixture known as MOX, which can be used as a fuel source. This might extend the uranium supply for a few more decades. Radioactive waste disposal and the high expense of constructing nuclear power facilities are its most significant drawbacks.
Nuclear Fusion Energy
On the other hand, nuclear fusion technology which is the same process that happens within the core of the sun may hold the key to solving our current energy crisis. Lithium is the key ingredient when it comes to fusing hydrogen and other isotopes such as deuterium or tritium. More than 60 million years’ worth of lithium can be found in the combined Earth’s and the sea’s deposits. It is estimated that deuterium, a hydrogen isotope, will be around for another 250 million years at the very least as seawater can be used to extract the fuel. Using this isotope’s energy, on the other hand, is a labor-intensive procedure that is only just getting started. Nuclear fusion may replace all other forms of energy created as soon as we figure out how to make it work. With little carbon dioxide emission and short half-life radioactive waste, nuclear fusion is an environmentally friendly and renewable energy technology that can produce a large amount of energy to replace all fossil fuel energy generation.
This nuclear fusion reaction powers the sun and all other stars. There are many steps involved in forming the heavier nucleus and releasing massive amounts of energy, but the process is difficult to recreate.
Mid-20th-century nuclear fusion energy research was initially focused on understanding how stars powered themselves. It was only very lately that efforts were turned toward harnessing energy as well.
Plasma is the condition of matter in which nuclear fusion takes place. Positive ions and free-moving electrons combine to generate plasma, a hot, charged gas with properties that straddle solids, liquids, and gases.
The collisions between the nuclei on the sun can reach up to 100 million degrees Celsius temperatures. The nuclei are naturally attracted to one another; therefore, a tiny region improves the likelihood that the nuclei will overcome this natural repulsion and fuse with each other.
How much power is generated by nuclear fusion?
The sun is powered by nuclear fusion, and it’s a powerful energy source.
According to experts, a terajoule of energy can be produced with as little as a few grams of the reactants — hydrogen-deuterium and tritium. This is roughly the amount of energy required for one individual to live for sixty years in an industrialized country.
Wind farms transform mechanical energy from the wind into electricity using wind power. Power generated by wind turbines is subsequently sent through transmission networks to end-users. An average wind farm can only use 20 to 40 percent of its total electricity capacity.
As wind speed fluctuates, only extremely high and consistently heavy winds may be used to harvest wind energy. This constrains the amount of energy that can be extracted from the wind. These are more common at higher elevations. To build wind farms, wind energy requires big, open areas of land.
The global wind power generation capacity was 121.2 GW in 2008. Currently, wind power only generates about 1.5% of the world’s total electricity. However, in the three years from 2005 to 2008, this industry grew two-fold. Denmark, Portugal, and Spain each generate 10% of their electricity from wind power, while Ireland and Germany each generate 7.5% of their electricity from wind power.
Other Renewable Sources Of Energy
The Earth’s interior is extremely hot. Water, rocks, and steam are all present at depths. The magma in the deepest part of the volcano is extremely heated. Electrical energy can be generated from this heat and used to power a variety of devices. No fuel or land is needed to use geothermal energy. If we harness more energy than we need, it will still be sufficient for millions of years since the amount of heat held in the earth bed is so immense.
Despite their size, the oceans contain a wealth of energy in the form of water currents, temperature differences, and salinity gradients. Tidal and wave energy can be used to generate electricity. To generate electricity, heat engines can be powered by the temperature variations caused by differing depths in the water.
Electricity can be generated by the osmotic pressure difference between salt and fresh water. A breakthrough for mankind is possible even if most of these methods are still in their experimental stages. It is possible that the oceans may be able to satisfy our energy needs and take over as the reigning monarch of fuel.
Sanctions Against Russian Gas and Oil
There will be no more Russian oil, gas, or coal imports from the United States in response to a demand from Ukraine.
There will be no more Russian oil or gas imported into the UK by the end of this year, and the EU will reduce its imports by two-thirds. The government of the United Kingdom claims that this gives it enough time to discover alternate sources of supply.
According to Deputy Russian Prime Minister Alexander Novak, Rejecting Russian oil would have catastrophic consequences for the world economy.
It is a cooperative initiative involving the EU, the United States, Japan, India, Russia, China, and South Korea to build the largest Tokamak device to test magnetic confinement in order to produce fusion energy, which is the goal of ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor). There are millions of components and cutting-edge technologies that will be counted so that they may be measured and draw lessons from the performance of future commercial power plants.
In light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the ITER megaproject, which aims to demonstrate the potential of nuclear fusion by creating the world’s largest tokamak in southwest France, has been deafening in its silence.
However, this may not be as simple as Ukraine’s Council of Young Scientists has argued. Along with China, the EU, India, Japan, Korea, and the United States, Russia is one of seven founding members of the 35-year initiative. This means that there is no way to exclude it from the project totally.
Future of Oil and Gas
Alternative Sources Of Oil
Research analyst Ben McWilliams says it should be easier to locate alternate supplies for oil than for gas because while some come from Russia, there are also a lot of shipments from other countries.
The United States has asked Saudi Arabia to expand its oil production, but it has previously refused to do so to down oil prices.
Opec, the world’s largest oil cartel, is led by Saudi Arabia, which produces about 60 percent of the world’s crude oil. As a result, Opec plays a significant influence in determining oil prices. No member of Opec has agreed to increase output to date.
In addition, the United States is considering easing restrictions on Venezuela’s oil exports. Venezuela used to be a major source of oil for the United States, but it has primarily sold its oil to China in recent years.
Substitutes for Russian Gas
McWilliams says it’s difficult to substitute gas because of the large networks that bring Russian gas to Europe.
For example, the European think-tank Bruegel estimates that Europe could purchase more liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States if Russia stopped supplying gas to Europe.
The European Union has suggested a plan to make Europe free of Russian fossil fuels by 2030, including measures to diversify gas supply and replace gas in heating and electricity generation.
Oil and gas prices have already risen dramatically, and they will climb even more if Russia stops exporting.
What are the difficulties of generating energy from nuclear fusion?
Nuclear fusion requires extremely specialized and harsh circumstances, nearly impossible to duplicate on Earth.
Temperatures and pressures on the sun’s core are similar to what is needed to produce fuel for fusion reactors. There are also fears that the reaction chambers will be damaged by the neutrons emitted during the reaction.
In addition, current reactor chambers are too huge and expensive to produce electricity for the average user.
Is 100% renewable energy realistic?
According to many researchers, it’s impossible to imagine a world powered solely by renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and nuclear. They even believe that we’ll be able to do it by the year 2050.