27-09-2019 | By Moe Long
There’s an overall trend towards environmentalism across all sectors. Whether this means restaurants banning plastic straws, transitioning to clean energy sources, or purchasing carbon offsets, society has witnessed an uptick in sustainability. Recently, green technology examples have become increasingly popular. Learn all about green technologies and why they are essential.
Green technology is designed with the planet in mind and can help reduce carbon emissions, minimise waste and conserve natural resources. It’s an essential part of sustainability, which aims to meet present needs without compromising future generations’ ability to meet their own. Sustainability is a balance between economic, social and environmental factors that must be considered holistically for a sustainable future.
As “green” in its name implies, green technology features an onus on sustainability. And the technology portion, well, that’s pretty wide-ranging. Overall, green energy concentrates on sustainable technology innovation, which factors in short-term and long-term environmental effects.
10 Green Technology Examples:
1. Green Technology Example: LED Lighting
LED lighting is a great example of green technology. By switching to LED lights, we can save a lot of energy compared to traditional incandescent lights. These lights are not only energy efficient but they have also been used in some amazing ways, like in vertical farming and even to combat malaria. The good news is that you don't have to live in a house to benefit from this technology. Even apartment dwellers can upgrade to smart LED lights, which are an easy and smart way to make your home more environmentally friendly. By using LED lights, we can all play a small but significant role in creating a sustainable future for everyone.
In my own experience, I have seen the benefits of LED lighting first-hand. In a recent project at MitchElectronics, we were able to reduce our energy consumption by 30% by switching to LED lights.
- LED Lighting Statistics: Compared to conventional incandescent lighting, LED uses up to 75% less energy and is 25 times more durable, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. This results in substantial energy savings and a decrease in carbon emissions.
- Costs: The typical cost per LED bulb now ranges from $2 to $10, thanks to considerable cost reductions over the years.
- Energy Savings: The number of bulbs used, their wattage, and how long they are used each day all affect how much energy LED lighting saves. In general, a typical LED bulb can save around 70% to 90% on energy costs compared to traditional incandescent bulbs.
- Carbon Emission Reductions: A typical LED bulb can reduce carbon emissions by around 1,000 pounds over its lifetime compared to traditional incandescent bulbs.
Credit: Solar Electric Power Company
2. Green Technology Example: Solar Panels
Solar panels are an established technology. However, the recent decrease in cost and introduction of monetary incentives, such as tax credits in various regions, has made it a more attractive and viable option. Even a single solar water heater can significantly reduce energy consumption, and the return on investment is quick due to the high efficiency of solar energy. The cost-effectiveness and energy savings make solar panels an increasingly popular choice for households and businesses alike.
According to a comprehensive guide by Energy.gov, implementing solar panels in conjunction with energy efficiency measures can lead to significant savings on household energy costs. The guide suggests that the exact savings can vary depending on factors such as your home's solar potential, the size and type of solar system installed, and the availability of solar incentives in your area. (link to the Energy.gov article)
- Solar Panels Statistics: Solar energy has drawn a sizable investment of $18.7 billion in the United States in 2020, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, which will result in the creation of jobs and a reduction in carbon emissions. Also, according to projections made by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the use of solar energy in the United States will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 119 million metric tonnes by the year 2050.
- Costs: The price of solar panels has substantially fallen over time; currently, they cost an average of $2.50 to $3.50 per watt.
- Energy Savings: Many variables, like the system's size, location, and weather, affect how much energy solar panels save. Generally speaking, a typical 5 kW solar panel system can produce about 7,000 kWh of electricity annually, which is sufficient to run a normal American home for a year.
- Carbon Emission Reductions: A 5 kW solar panel system has a yearly carbon emission reduction capacity of about 8,000 pounds.
Aerial Photo of a Photovoltaic Solar Power Generation Energy Grid
3. Green Technology Example: Wind Energy
Likewise, harnessing wind power is a fantastic example of green tech in action. Commonly, wind energy is associated with a wind farm. But small-scale windmills offer a nifty method of adopting green tech trends in a residential setting. The amount of energy you can offset with a windmill varies, as does the cost of adoption and installation. Offshore wind turbines provide steady, reliable, clean energy.
- Wind Energy Statistics: The Global Wind Energy Council reports that as of 2020, wind energy accounted for 7.2% of global electricity generation and prevented the emission of 1.1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to taking 238 million cars off the road.
- Costs: The average cost per kilowatt-hour for wind turbines range from $0.06 to $0.14.
- Energy Savings: The amount of energy saved by wind turbines depends on various factors such as location, wind speed, and turbine size. A typical 2 MW wind turbine can produce approximately 5,000 MWh of electricity annually, enough to power approximately 600 homes.
- Carbon Emission Reductions: A 2 MW wind turbine can save approximately 3,000 tonnes of CO2 annually.
Wind turbines in Oiz eolic park
4. Green Technology Example: Composting
Among the best and easiest green tech examples, there’s composting. It’s straightforward, and virtually anyone can get started. You can make your own worm bin perfect for use in a home, and many cities even tout composting programs. I make use of a paid service that picks up my food waste. In some areas, such as Seattle, it’s illegal to dispose of food waste in the trash bin.
- Costs: The cost of composting can vary depending on the scale of the operation, but small-scale backyard composting can be done for very little cost.
- Carbon Emission Reductions: By keeping organic waste out of landfills, where it would otherwise degrade and emit methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, composting can, according to the EPA, lower greenhouse gas emissions. Composting also lessens the demand for chemical fertilisers, which may have detrimental effects on the environment.
5. Green Technology Example: Electric Vehicles
Although the price tag of a Tesla may be a bit steep, the flagship electronic vehicle manufacturer isn’t the only EV maker on the market. Instead, there’s a slew of other electric automobiles from the likes of Nissan, Chevy, and BMW. Advances in EV technology find wireless charging capabilities as the electric auto industry continues to evolve. Granted, charging an electric vehicle off a coal-powered grid isn’t as sustainable as it could be, but better gas mileage and zero emissions still make it a better alternative than a petroleum-powered car. EVs may be the future of the automotive industry.
- Electric Vehicles Statistics: According to the International Energy Agency, depending on how the electricity is produced, electric vehicles can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50–70% when compared to gasoline-powered vehicles. In addition, research by the Union of Concerned Scientists revealed that electric vehicles emit less than half as many greenhouse gases as equivalent gasoline-powered automobiles in areas with relatively clean energy grids, including California and the Northeastern United States.
- Costs: EV prices vary based on the model and make, although they are often more expensive than gasoline-powered cars of similar size. Yet, because fuel and maintenance expenditures are typically cheaper, the cost of ownership is frequently lower.
- Carbon Emission Reductions: The Union of Concerned Scientists claims that even when the emissions from producing energy to charge them are taken into account, EVs still emit less carbon dioxide than gasoline-powered cars.
Electric car charging station, Tesla cars in a Tesco car park UK
6. Green Technology Example: Programmable Thermostats
A programmable thermostat is a low-cost green technology solution. Virtually any home or apartment now boasts one. With a programmable thermostat, you can set a schedule and automatically adjust the temperature around your comings and goings to save energy and money. Moreover, programmable thermostats don’t even need to be smart thermostats. Instead, tons of “dumb” thermostats feature the ability to set a schedule. A smart thermostat does add the convenience of monitoring and changing the temperature remotely.
- Costs: The cost of programmable thermostats can vary depending on the features and complexity, but they can often pay for themselves in energy savings within a year or two.
- Energy Savings: According to Energy Star, properly using a programmable thermostat can save homeowners up to $180 per year in energy costs.
Smart Thermostat with a person saving energy
7. Green Technology Example: Vertical Farming
Vertical farming is an eco friendly technology as simple as its name, and this is the concept of growing produce in stacked vertical layers rather than horizontally. The benefit of vertical farming is increased sustainability, and some vertical farming configurations don’t even require soil and reduce water use exponentially.
- Costs: Vertical farming can be expensive to put up, though costs might vary based on the size of the business and the technology employed. But supporters contend that advantages like year-round production and less water use can offset the disadvantages.
8.) Green Technology Example: Hydropower
A sustainable energy source known as hydropower uses the kinetic energy of moving water to turn a turbine, which then powers a generator to create electricity. Around 16% of the electricity produced worldwide comes from the dependable and economical source of hydropower.
Hydropower has the benefit of being a clean energy source because it doesn't emit any greenhouse gases or air pollutants when in use. Hydropower is also a versatile and effective energy source since it can be utilised to store energy and react swiftly to variations in demand.
Hydropower initiatives, however, can have detrimental effects on the environment and society, particularly if they entail huge dams and reservoirs. Local communities may be uprooted, habitats and biodiversity may be lost, and river and stream flows may shift naturally as a result of these effects. Consequently, before hydropower projects are created, it is crucial to thoroughly assess their effects on the environment and society.
- Costs: Depending on the size and nature of the plant, as well as other elements like the cost of construction and the availability of water, the cost of producing energy from hydropower might vary. The LCOE for conventional hydropower, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, ranges from $0.05 to $0.10 per kWh.
- Reductions in Carbon Emissions: By displacing fossil fuels, hydropower has the potential to lower carbon emissions. Hydropower is the main source of renewable electricity and will prevent almost 4 billion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in 2020, according to the International Energy Agency.
A hydropower plant located in Norway is contributing to the global effort to provide green energy.
9.) Green Technology Example: Geothermal Energy
Geothermal energy is a renewable energy source that is produced by utilising the heat of the earth's crust. It can generate electricity and give houses heating and cooling. It is dependable, economical, and capable of producing a sizeable portion of the world's electricity. Also, it is clean because it doesn't emit any greenhouse gases or air pollutants when it's in use.
The ecology and society may be negatively affected by geothermal energy projects that entail drilling into the earth's crust. Some of these effects could be the emission of greenhouse gases, the depletion of subsurface water supplies, and probable seismic activity. Hence, before starting any geothermal energy projects, it is essential to carefully assess their potential effects on the environment and society.
- Costs: Depending on the type and size of the system, geothermal systems can range in price. The price per tonne of capacity typically ranges from $2,500 to $7,500.
- Energy Savings: The amount of energy saved by geothermal systems relies on a number of variables, including the system's location, size, and heating and cooling requirements. A typical 3-ton geothermal system can save heating and cooling costs by 50% to 70% on average.
- Reductions in Carbon Emissions: An average 3-ton geothermal system can cut carbon emissions by 5,000 to 6,000 pounds annually.
A geothermal station featuring steam and pipes is located in Negros, Philippines
10.) Green Technology Example: Biomass
Organic material that can be converted into energy is referred to as biomass. It consists of forestry byproducts, energy crops, and agricultural trash. This ongoing process of growing and harvesting biomass makes it a renewable resource. Biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel can be produced in addition to power and heat.
Because the plants used to make biofuels absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, they have the potential to be carbon neutral or even carbon negative. Yet, there are issues with emissions from burning biomass as well as competing for land and water resources with food production. Notwithstanding these obstacles, biomass still has a chance to be a key component of green technology because of its capacity to provide renewable energy and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
- Biomass Statistics: About 1.3% of all power generated in the United States in 2022 came from biomass, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency.
- Costs: Depending on the feedstock type and technique utilised to turn it into energy, the cost of manufacturing biomass energy can change. In contrast to other renewable energy sources, it is typically thought to be less expensive.
- Carbon Emission Reductions: By offering a substitute for fossil fuels and by repurposing materials that might otherwise be thrown out, biomass can help reduce carbon emissions and waste.
An aerial view of the landscape featuring Drax Power Station and its biomass storage tanks
The Role of Government Policies in Promoting Green Technology
It's crucial to recognise how government policies support and encourage the use of green technologies. Several policies have been put in place by governments all over the world to promote the use of renewable energy sources and lower carbon emissions. Offering tax credits or incentives to individuals, businesses, and families who invest in renewable energy sources like solar or wind turbines is one method they accomplish this. With the aid of these incentives, green technology may become more affordable and accessible to a wider range of individuals.
Governments may also set renewable energy objectives and mandate utilities to produce a specific proportion of their electricity from renewable sources. This generates a need for green technologies and promotes industry innovation. Government policies have been successful in supporting the use of green technology in many fields, even if they can be contentious and differ from country to country.
The Ethical Considerations of Green Technology Adoption
The discussion surrounding green technology must include ethical issues. It has a lot of advantages, but there could also be drawbacks that need to be taken into account. Creating renewable energy sources, for instance, may have unforeseen effects on nearby communities and ecosystems, such as relocating people or damaging habitats. Making sure that green technology is created in a way that minimises these negative effects and is long-term sustainable is crucial.
Also, it's important to make sure that everyone can access renewable energy sources, especially underprivileged populations who might lack the funds to invest in these technologies. This necessitates putting fairness and inclusion at the forefront of formulating and putting into practice green technology policies and programmes. All things considered, it's critical to approach green technology from a holistic standpoint that takes into account both the environmental and social aspects and gives sustainability a priority in its application.
It’s Not Easy Being Green Technology
Green tech varies from accessible devices such as programmable thermostats and LED bulbs to pricey wind turbines and solar panels, with electronic vehicles somewhere in between. No-cost solutions like composting are excellent starting places. However, there are many considerations, such as how renewable energy is stored. Combating climate change requires a total disruption of society, including the continued adoption of green technology.
Adopting green technology comes with challenges and drawbacks that must be considered. The initial cost of investment is a major challenge, as it often requires a significant up-front expense that may deter individuals and organisations from investing. Moreover, infrastructure changes may be necessary to accommodate renewable energy sources, which can be costly and challenging for areas ill-equipped to handle these changes. Finally, finding skilled labour to install and maintain new systems may be another challenge. However, despite these challenges, the benefits of green technology are evident. Efforts are underway to make renewable energy more accessible and affordable for everyone.
This article was last updated on (14/06/2023) to reflect the latest developments in green technology.