Let’s talk energy; I’m talking about the kwHs measured for electricity, cubic meters measured for natural gas, and liters measured for gasoline. We use and pay for energy every single day even if we aren’t fully aware of it. It might not be as present now as spring has fully established its presence, but if you wake up warm in the winters and cool in the summers, kwHs are being pumped through your heating and A/C system. If you don’t strike flint and stone to prepare dinner, it’s highly likely that you’re using one of a couple of things: electricity or natural gas depending on the type of stove burners you have.
While we’re living in one of the world’s most powerful countries in terms of energy production, we have to ask ourselves: are we using a justifiable amount and are we preserving enough of the resources being used in the production of the energy?
Energy? Who’s She?
There are two categories of energy: renewable and non-renewable energy. To cut it short and simple, renewable energy comes from natural resources that can be replaced over a short period of time and non-renewable energy is a result of extracting from resources that cannot be replaced or are replaced at a very slow rate.
According to Power Technology, hydro electricity is the most widely used renewable power source accounting for more than 18% of the world’s power generation and 54% of the world’s renewable power generation. Contrasting, according to Energy Informative, fossil fuels including oil, petroleum, natural gas, etc. are the most popular non-renewable energy sources.
Although we have access to so many renewable energy sources, it doesn’t seem like there are making large enough strides towards a full transition to green energy, but to stick with the PickWaste modo, by committing small consistent actions there can be massive changes.
Energy has been a hot topic amongst the financial markets in recent months as green energy companies have soared in value and fossil fuel-based companies have plummeted in value. In a time like this, non-renewables may seem like the cheaper source of energy, but if we always look at things at the face value, we will be ignoring the most concerning issue at hand: pollution and climate change. Because of these massive energy companies, our world is changing at an alarming rate for the better and a lot towards the worse. Think about buying quality energy like buying quality foods or quality clothing. Although it may be difficult to do so as there is probably one energy company per municipality, there are always alternatives like installing solar panels or even a small-form wind turbine if your property permits.
Through my short time attending Canada’s most innovative university, the University of Waterloo, I get to see quite a bit of action go through the student body. This includes the various student-run activities and national competitions entered by students. I’d like to highlight a couple of initiatives at the university.
The first being WISE, the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy. Their goal as an organization is to conduct original research and develop innovative solutions and policies to help transform the energy system for long-term sustainability, or in other words to provide clean energy that is accessible and affordable for all.
Second, the university has various teams cycling through the UW Midnight Sun project every semester to prepare for a national competition every two years. The Midnight Sun project is one of the oldest student design teams (30 years) at the University of Waterloo and they strive to reach higher and more ambitious goals for their solar-powered vehicles every year. In the most recent years, the team participated in the American Solar Challenge and was the first Canadian cruiser-class car to finish the challenge. The team took the cruiser to the 2019 Formula Sun Grand Prix and placed third overall.
Photo by Midnight Sun
Although these organizations are not large in size, they have been putting in the efforts to drive the collaboration and innovation out for growth in the use and adaptation of green energy. The focus is not on extensive expansion, but extensive exploration and exposure in the energy sector.
For the readers binging Netflix or YouTube all day – just like myself – don’t think that you need to join organizations like the ones mentioned above in order to create an impact, we can all do our part from the comforts of our PJs in bed by educating ourselves about sustainable energy sources and learning how to use energy conservatively.
TIP: Be conservative where possible – maybe try to cut down on the cookie baking sessions, but if you do bake please share!
To drive it further, we don’t know what the future holds for renewable energies, but what we can guarantee is an effort towards using the best renewable resource: human capital to answer the questions of if we are using a justifiable amount of energy and if we are preserving enough resources.
In order for massive changes to occur, small consistent actions need to be executed. These small consistent steps taken by organizations such as the ones mentioned above will in turn disrupt our energy consumption statistics from minority renewable to majority renewable.