Why sustainable energy matters
Why sustainable energy matters

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Why sustainable energy matters

1.2 Where do we get our energy from?

Of course, not all energy sources are of fossil or nuclear origin. The renewable energy sources, principally solar energy and its derivatives in the form of bioenergy, hydroelectricity, wind and wave power, are increasingly considered likely to play an important role in the sustainable energy systems of the future. The 'renewables' are based on energy flows that are replenished by natural processes, and so do not become depleted with use as do fossil or nuclear fuels – although there may be other constraints on their use. The environmental impacts of renewable energy sources vary, but they are generally much lower than those of conventional fuels. However, the current costs of renewable energy sources are in many cases higher than those of conventional sources, and this has until recently retarded their deployment.

All these considerations suggest that in creating a sustainable energy future for humanity during the coming decades, it will be necessary:

  1. to implement greatly improved technologies for harnessing the fossil and nuclear fuels, to ensure that their use, if continued, creates much lower environmental and social impact;

  2. to develop and deploy the renewable energy sources on a much wider scale; and

  3. to make major improvements in the efficiency of energy conversion, distribution and use.

These three general approaches will be explored further, and in greater detail in the remaining sections of this course.

T206_1

Take your learning further371

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses372.

If you are new to university level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. Find out Where to take your learning next?373 You could either choose to start with an Access courses374or an open box module, which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification.

Not ready for University study then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn375 and sign up to our newsletter376 to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371