From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much.
Mains level : Paper 3-Climate change and adoption of clean and sustainable energy to tackle with it.
Significance of electricity in our life
- Interconnecting economic prosperity: Electrical energy is a juncture that inter-connects economic prosperity.
- Amplifies social equity.
- Ushers in a liveable environment for us.
- No development in its true sense is possible if we leave aside energy and specifically sustainable energy.
- It is almost indispensable for holistic and sustainable progress of any kind.
Burning of fossil fuel and climate change
- Singular reliance on fossil fuel: Ever since the industrial revolution, development has almost singularly relied on the burning of fossil fuels, emitting huge volumes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
- 41% of electricity from coal: As per data by the World Coal Association, a little over 41% of all electricity generated is produced from coal.
- Problems with coal: Burning coal for electricity production leads to-
- High level of hazardous carbon emissions.
- Rising levels of pollution: water and air pollution during mining and air pollution during burning.
- Working condition of miners: Added to the disastrous working conditions of miners, coal cannot be regarded as a sustainable source of energy.
- Global warming and climate change: Despite increasing awareness, not much is being done to mitigate climate change.
- Rise over 1.5oC and Consequences: IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has reiterated that unless global temperature rise is not kept within 1.5 degrees Celsius, natural and human systems will be irreparably damaged.
- Rise over 2o C and Consequences: Even a slight increase in atmospheric temperature by 2 degrees Celsius will result in a substantial rise in sea levels.
- Consequences for human life: The rise in sea level would, in turn, translate into a whopping 10 million more people going homeless and another 50% people facing severe water scarcity.
- The aim of becoming carbon neutral: To join the efforts, many global public and private stakeholders have pledged their allegiance into becoming net-zero carbon emitters.
- But we are still far from achieving our objectives, as the IEA (International Energy Agency) recently reported that the Earth’s temperature rise will range between 1.8 degrees Celsius and 2.7 degrees Celsius soon.
Sustainable energy as a necessity
- Energy efficiency and energy management: As the world is evolving into an interconnected form of world-of work, life and more-energy efficiency and energy management have slowly come to be a central driving force.
- Sustainable energy a necessity: In order to power smart homes, industries, hospitals and other mission-critical operations, sustainable energy is no more a matter of choice, but of necessity.
- IoT to help achieve energy efficiency: Technology adoptions like IoT and connected services can greatly enhance energy efficiencies and many global behemoths are coming to terms with this reality.
- Demand for an alternative source of energy: Environmental factors, coupled with rising costs and stringent regulatory guidelines, are adding to the demand for alternative sources of energy.
- Alternate as well as sustainable: The alternate sources are expected not only to satiate the growing consumption needs but are proven to be a sustainable option in the long run.
- Electricity 4.0: That is, sustainable methods of energy generation and efficient and cost-effective usage of produced energy.
- The sustainable energy need of the sustainable future: To lay the foundation stone for a sustainable future, there is a critical need to investigate how we create and consume energy.
- The answer lies in renewables becoming the dominant source of power, globally.
- A new form of energy mix: There is a growing need to build a new form of energy mix under Electricity 4.0, with renewable ways of electricity creation, at its very core. A new order where-
- Electrical internet of things (EIOT).
- Cloud computing.
- Artificial intelligence.
- And the tools of today’s digital era are fully leveraged to maximise energy efficiency.
- Given that the major cause of global warming is Carbon Dioxide, so the first step to combat it would be-
- Electrifying the planet: The augmented proliferation of energy-efficient, electricity-based equipments that are prevalent now, such as e-mobility, electrical heating, innovative applications such as electric aviation fleets can be one way to do that.
- Scale up the production of renewable energy: The immediate need is to scale up the production of renewable electricity and build conducive public-policy frameworks to further this goal.
- Adoption of digital technology: It is imperative to adopt digital technology in order to optimise the efficiency of our energy consumption and electrical networks. Digital connectivity, software and artificial intelligence can well be dubbed as the fulcrum that will support our transition toward Industry 4.0.
- Concerted efforts from all stakeholders: To reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions or to promote energy decarbonisation, concerted efforts are required from all stakeholders – the community, regions, government and the private sector.