The United States and other developed countries are aggressively moving to replace fossil fuels used in energy production with green energy sources. The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to slow global warming. But are these green or renewable energy solutions (e.g. wind, solar, biomass, battery storage, and electric vehicles) as green as they might appear to be? Are there environmental, social and economic impacts associated with these non-fossil energy sources that need to be considered as we develop and implement sustainable and reliable energy solutions?
Decisions related to how a country meets its energy needs through its own supplies and/or by importing energy have long-term impacts. For example, the war in Ukraine provides graphic proof of the importance of the type of energy a country uses and the source of that energy. Some of the issues and questions this class will address include:
- Does renewable energy save as much energy as it takes to produce it?
- How do fossil and non-fossil energy sources compare on an economic and environmental basis?
- How do we efficiently transition from fossil fuels to green/renewable energy and what is a realistic timetable?
- Where do the materials to build wind turbines and solar panels come from and what supply chain constraints exist?
- What creative technologies can be used to supplement intermittent sources of power like wind and solar to make them more reliable?
Background materials and optional reading will be emailed to class participants prior to each session.