• Question: what's the more sustainable source of energy in our environment at the moment?

    Asked by ellier111 to Ed, Keith, Tish, Nicola, Rachel on 19 Mar 2013.
    • Photo: Keith Beattie

      Keith Beattie answered on 19 Mar 2013:

      Sustainable energy is the sustainable provision of energy that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. For example, solar, wind, tidal and hydro (water) power generation can meet this criteria. Other examples such as geothermal (eg ground source heat pumps) and anaerobic digestion (decomposing material releases methane gas) use some amount of energy to drive the process, but they generate much more than they consume. Even with solar, wind, tidal and hydo generation, energy and natural resources (copper, iron etc) are required to manufacture the equipment needed for these to work. So all energy generation uses some form of natural resources which can not be replenished quickly. The most sustainable source – is a tricky question to answer, but I would think it could be the sun (solar), but only if you use it directly for lighting and heat!

    • Photo: Nicola Lazenby

      Nicola Lazenby answered on 19 Mar 2013:

      Hhhhmmm……most sustainable………I was at a conference a couple of weekends ago, that talked about a wind turbine which can be used to power your house, made from no fancy materials apart from the magnets which are available from a range of places! If it ever breaks down, you don’t have to wait for parts to arrive etc, you can just use some materials you might have lying around! It’s called a Huge Piggott wind turbine. The Engineers without Borders society at Sheffield made one of these last year – maybe it could be a school project for you guys? The designs for it are free online 😉

      I think the most sustainable source of energy is something which is readily available and doesn’t require years to install. Something that is cheap and easy to put into use and get energy from 🙂

    • Photo: Edward Taylor

      Edward Taylor answered on 19 Mar 2013:

      I agree with Keith, the most sustainable is probably the sun, we recieve 1000 Watts of power per square meter! thats a lot of power, and we are getting better and better at collecting and storing all that energy. The two main ways are to either use lots of mirrors in a big field to point the suns ray at a specific point (kinda like using a magnifying glass to burn things), which would then heat up and we could use that heat to boil water into steam turn big power generating turbines. The other way uses chemical reactions caused by the sun to make energy (the ones you see on peoples roofs).

    • Photo: Natasha Watson

      Natasha Watson answered on 20 Mar 2013:

      I think the other three have answered the question well! I agree with Nicola that a major aspect of what makes an energy source sustainable is its availabilty to you; e.g. Iceland now gets 100% of its electricity from renewable resources and 81% of their combined electricity, heat and transport is from hydropower and geothermal because they have access to lots of geothermal activity and large fast flowing rivers.