October 01 2021
This is part of our ongoing series, called DTL (that stands for Down to Learn), where we take deep dives into the odd, nuanced and mysterious world of sustainability. Each article in our series should give you a good icebreaker for your next Zoom, or perhaps even inspire you. Today, a little discussion about clean energy.
We’re focused on creative problem-solving this month (more about WHY right over here, and energy is about as complicated as creative solutions come-- especially when it comes to renewables. In the spirit of creative problem solving, here’s a lil’ refresher on creative problem solving in the energy world from the folks at Team G.
What does clean energy ~actually~ mean?
Clean or renewable energy is energy that doesn’t release CO2 when it’s made. Some great examples are solar, wind, and hydro (water). Producing electricity from these sources is ideal-- less pollution or fossil fuel use than coal or oil, which makes for healthier communities and an option that seems more sustainable in the long term.
An alternative solution: Lithium Ion Batteries
LIBS, or Lithium Ion Batteries, are one way to graduate from coal and oil powered energy. These batteries are powerhouses (literally) and are able to store and save tons of energy for later use. Having a super windy day? LIBS can store that wind energy and save it for a day when we’re not so wind-lucky. Plus, these batteries use very little space relative to the amount of power they hold. They’re storage-savvy and space-efficient.
Nothing is quite as black and white as “fossil fuel bad, LIBS good”-- there are some nuances to the use and creation of LIBS that make them an imperfect solution. Their main ingredient, cobalt, can be toxic to humans and it’s mined from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has a fraught mining history.
What can we do?
Nothing is going to change overnight and that’s okay-- part of solving big problems is navigating imperfect solutions, and not giving up when our first, second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth ideas don’t go quite as planned.
Even if you can’t switch, we’re big fans of learning more as energy technologies advance-- consider something like a solar battery to recharge your phone on the go, subscribing to a newsletter so you can learn a bit more about LIBS or energy solutions each day (we love Volts!), or exploring a solution like Green Mountain Energy or CleanChoice Energy.