glass ball

Environmental Science Jobs: Availability, Salaries, & More

In today's world with its growing concerns about climate change and sustainable development, environmental scientists are in great demand. Environmental scientists can have many roles in both public and private sector companies, so there are many types of environmental science jobs available. Environmental science jobs are available in a range of geographical locations and can include fieldwork, office work, or a combination of both.

As awareness and concern about environmental issues increases, the number of environmental science jobs available will continue to grow, making environmental science a rewarding field with considerable growth potential.

What Is an Environmental Scientist?

Laboratory staff

Environmental scientists apply their skills and knowledge to allow for a better understanding of the environment, to identify current and future environmental issues, and to address those environmental issues.  While the specific education and training of environmental scientists vary, environmental scientists share a number of characteristics in addition to their love of the environment. Some of these characteristics are curiosity, the ability to analyze and interpret data, and excellent written and verbal communication skills. There is a broad range of environmental science jobs. Some environmental scientists are employed under that title while others work in more specialized jobs within the environmental science jobs umbrella. Examples of these specialized jobs include those of environmental engineers, environmental biologists, and environmental geologists. There are also other professions that can be combined with environmental science as with positions in the field of environmental law. 

Environmental scientists work in a variety of settings and with people in many different professions. Environmental science jobs can be office-based, field-based, or some combination of the two. Because of the importance of environmental health, environmental scientists may work with professionals of many kinds. It is not uncommon for environmental scientists to work with corporations in a wide variety of industries, with government officials or programs, or with nonprofit agencies.

Education & Certification Needed for Environmental Science Jobs

Because there is no one job description for an environmental scientist, there is no single education and certification path. For most entry-level environmental science jobs, a bachelor's degree in environmental science or a closely related field is required. Computer skills relating to geography such as digital mapping, remote sensing, and geographic information systems are in high demand. Additionally, computer skills like data manipulation and computer modeling are quite valuable for an environmental scientist. 

checking the microscope

Some environmental sciences jobs require more comprehensive or more specific education and certification. Because of the vast scope of the potential jobs available to environmental scientists, getting a double major, with the second major in an area of study that closely relates to the kind of work you'd like to do as an environmental scientist, can greatly increase your chances of getting the environmental science job you're most interested in. Though some positions do require a master's degree, doctoral degrees in environmental science are generally only required for teaching positions or for select research positions.

In areas where environmental science and another field overlap, training in both fields could be necessary. Environmental law jobs may require that, in addition to completing an environmental studies degree, a potential candidate also be able to practice law. For many environmental scientists who work primarily within corporate environments, additional degrees or certification in finance or business management may prove invaluable.

Environmental Science Job Availability, Salary, and More

There are many different types of environmental science jobs available. Though all of these jobs do share some qualities, there will be variance between different environmental science jobs when it comes to the specific focus, job duties, educational requirements, and salary

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENTIST

checking the microscope

Environmental Scientist Job Description

Environmental scientists could be responsible for many different job duties. One environmental scientist might conduct experiments in waterways to better understand the potential impact of a toxic spill. Another environmental scientist might gather data and create maps to illustrate how different environmental factors, like air pollution or water quality, change over time. A third environmental scientist might study the interaction of people with certain aspects of their environment, like wildlife. These are only a handful of many options.

Environmental Scientist Education

Environmental scientists typically have a bachelor's degree in environmental science or environmental studies.  

Environmental Scientist Salary and Job Outlook

As of 2015, the median wage for environmental scientists was roughly $67,000 annually. The job market for environmental scientists has been projected to increase by about eleven percent between 2014 and 2024.

ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEER

filling a container

Environmental Engineer Job Description

Environmental engineers use their knowledge and skills to address environmental issues and concerns. Environmental engineering has many potential applications. Environmental engineers could be involved in the creation and updating of reports, project development, and implementation, the analysis, and interpretation of data, or consulting work.

The job duties of an environmental engineer vary based both on the local environmental concerns and the skills of the environmental engineer. Some possible jobs for environmental engineers include finding innovative ways to reduce waste, assisting in the planning and permitting process for a construction project, or consulting in regard to how air pollution impacts human health and safety. Some environmental engineers work primarily in an office setting while others spend much of their time in the field.

Environmental Engineer Education

Environmental engineers need a minimum of a bachelor's degree in environmental engineering, or in another related engineering field like civil engineering. This field highly values hands-on experience, so internships and cooperative programs that allow work for college credit will help you to be more competitive when applying for environmental science jobs of this nature.

Environmental Engineer Salary and Job Outlook

As of 2012, the median wage for environmental engineers was roughly $81,000 annually. Those with federal government environmental engineering jobs earned roughly $98,000 annually during the same time period. The job market for environmental engineers has been projected to increase by about fifteen percent between 2011 and 2022.

ENVIRONMENTAL BIOLOGIST

plant tissue culture in a glass container

Environmental Biologist Job Description

Environmental biologists work with such aspects of environmental science as ecological conservation, land and water specialization, and landscape analysis and management. This kind of environmental science focuses heavily on associated disciplines of biology and zoology.

Environmental Biologist Education

Environmental scientists might get degrees relating to environmental design, ecology, and conservation. Landscape architects, for example, pursue degrees in environmental design and architecture.

Environmental Biologist Salary and Job Outlook

Environmental biologists can make varying salaries depending on their career path. The median salary for a landscape architect was roughly $63,000 in 2015. In 2012, the median salary for a conservation scientist was roughly $59,000 annually. Demand for environmental biologists is expected to continue to increase.

ENVIRONMENTAL GEOLOGIST

at the table checking rock sample

Environmental Geologist Job Description

Environmental geologists focus on soil and water. In this category of environmental science jobs, the scope of work could include monitoring soil and water quality, as well as developing, implementing, or evaluating plans for the protection or remediation of soil and water resources.

Environmental Geologist Education

In addition to their environmental knowledge, environmental geologists need a strong foundation in earth sciences. A degree that includes such disciplines as geology or hydrology would be ideal for this field.

Environmental Geologist Salary and Job Outlook

The median salary for hydrologists in 2012 was roughly $57,000 annually. The median salary for geoscientists in the same period was roughly $90,000 annually. As with other areas of environmental science jobs, the demand for environmental geologists is predicted to increase.

Conclusion

In a world struggling to understand and address the effect of environmental issues, environmental scientists are and will continue to be in demand. Because of the broad range of focus, there are many potential environmental science jobs available. With opportunities to work in the field, in a lab, or in an office, there are environmental science jobs available for people desiring many types of work environments.

checking lava samples

Environmental scientists are needed to gather and analyze data so that our current environmental condition is better known so that we can see how the environmental condition has changed over time, and so that we might predict how the environment will change in the future. Environmental scientists are also needed to develop, implement, and analyze programs for environmental conservation and remediation. In addition, environmental scientists serve as valuable consultants regarding both government policy and human health and safety.

When preparing for a career in the environmental sciences, consider a specialized degree, like environmental engineering, or a dual major, for example, a dual major in environmental studies and biology. You can also choose to get a degree in environmental studies while also earning degrees or certifications in another discipline, for example, both earning an environmental science degree and becoming a lawyer.  

Whatever your choice as far as an educational path, take advantage of any opportunities you have to learn additional skills and get hands-on experience. Consider taking courses to increase your computer skills, your technical writing skills, or your communication skills. If you are able to take advantage of internships or programs that allow you to gain college credit for hours worked that experience will give you a valuable edge in the application process.

solar panel

Should I Consider Using Flexible Solar Panels?

Solar panels can be used for renewable energy since they harness the sun's energy to generate power that can run industries or a home's equipment and lighting. The use of solar panels supplements energy needs, and thus provides an opportunity for homeowners to save on energy costs. The technology is advancing rapidly each year and new developments, such as flexible solar panels, are constantly being released and improved upon.

Whether it is powering the Tesla Gigafactory or providing a reading light in your own living room, solar energy saves money for energy consumers. New flexible solar panels represent a great advancement in renewable energy. But, what are flexible solar panels? This article will walk you through the basics and benefits of flexible solar panels.

What Are Flexible Solar Panels?

silicon wafers

Standard polycrystalline or monocrystalline solar panels are typically made of silicon wafers. They are about 200 micrometers thick, which is slightly thicker than a human hair.

To make a “flexible” solar panel, engineers would have to slice the silicon wafers to just a few micrometers. This then would enable the wafers to be ultra-thin, giving solar panels the uniquely convenient property of being flexible.

Flexible solar panels have been around for a while, but they were limited in their flexibility because of the brittleness of conventional electrodes used within the panels. Recently, MIT researchers developed a new method for making the solar panels, and it represented a giant leap in the technology.

Instead of trying to slice down traditional silicon for their solar panel electrodes, MIT researchers found a way they could instead use organic solar cells for graphene electrodes. Graphene is transparent and flexible, meaning it can be used to develop thinner, more stable and flexible solar panels than the ones we used previously.


Thin Film Solar Panels

Current flexible solar panels that most homeowners can get their hands on fall under the category of “thin film panels.”

A thin film solar panel consists of layers over 300 times smaller than standard silicon solar panels. This makes them thinner and can even make the panels somewhat flexible. They are also lightweight and durable, making them an intriguing option for supplying energy for different needs.

THIN FILM SOLAR PANELS

Although more flexible and suitable for certain projects, the flexible solar panels have a lower efficiency in converting solar energy into useable power than rigid silicon-based panels. This, perhaps, is the most common obstacle faced by the product when it is compared to classic solar panels.

The efficiency rating for the average polycrystalline or monocrystalline solar panel is about 14-17%. For thin solar panels, the efficiency is reduced slightly to between 11% and 13%.

The lower efficiency of the flexible panels implies you will need more of them to produce the same amount of energy as traditional solar panels. This can be a barrier to some solar projects, particularly those with limited roof space for installation. Another downside is that they are not a good fit for many home rooftop solar projects, because there may not be enough roof space to produce the desired amount of energy.

If you have ample space or are just looking for a supplemental energy production boost, then we feel the just slightly lower efficiency can be overlooked — especially when you consider how many benefits these flexible panels yield.


Uses

Flexible solar panels can be used in virtually all applications that one could use conventional panels. You can use them for:

  • Low-cost, off-grid PV systems for cabins and homes
  • Their portability makes them useful on-the-go for boats, RVs, autos, etc.
  • Can be used to charge solar batteries
  • Technology can be incorporated into new solar energy consumer products

Benefits of Flexible Solar Panels

satellite

The main benefit of a flexible solar panel is its versatility and ability to fit many types of solar projects. For instance, if your home's roof cannot bear the heavy load of traditional solar panels because of structural concerns, then lightweight flexible panels are your solution. Flexible solar panels will not compromise the structural integrity of your home as they can be shaped to fit the surface. They can even be installed easily on unconventional structures, such as carports.

From a financial standpoint, flexible solar panels require less labor to install, so your cost of installation is likely to be less than it would be if you had used the typically heavy and bulky classic panels that require heavy-duty roof mounting systems.

The lightweight and versatile nature of these panels make them portable, which is beneficial during transportation. The flexible panels can also be folded and rolled, something that is impossible for conventional, rigid solar panels.

Typically, solar panels are manufactured using printing machines that capitalize on the roll-to-roll method. This enables rapid, mass production. Manufacturing flexible panels is affordable compared to conventional solar panels. Besides, the material consumption is low and is recyclable after the life cycle ends. The market for organic solar panels is developing. It is expected that the operational life cycle of solar panels in a few years will support many applications.

Due to their portability and durability, the flexible solar panels are best for smaller solar projects where they may experience wear and tear that would otherwise not occur on stationary roofs. Their durability and reduced weight make them a perfect fit for smaller, mobile solar projects that do not need large amounts of energy, such as on boats or RVs.

Why Should I Consider Using Flexible Solar Panels?

solar panel and mobile phone

Amazon.com sells many types of flexible solar panels at different prices. Ask yourself if you could benefit from a flexible solar panel based on your energy needs.

When shopping for a flexible solar panel that will best serve your purposes, look for value for your money. The performance of the solar panel varies according to the quality of the solar cells used, the material used in laminating them and the rigor of the assembly process.

The following are four things you must consider before purchasing a flexible solar panel:

  • Shorter lifespans
  • Quality and efficiency
  • Product knowledge
  • Durability


Shorter Lifespans

Flexible panels have a shorter lifespan than traditional panels. If you need a solar panel that will last a very long time, then the flexible panel may not be your best option. In fact, many of the low-quality flexible solar panels currently on the market will only 1-3 years. Aside from that, the retailer may offer no warranty.

One decisive factor in determining the lifespan of a flexible solar panel is to check its coating material, which is mostly the preferred ETFE (fluorine-based polymer) or less-preferred PET (polyester-based plastic.) PET-laminated panels are expected to last for 5 years, while ETFE can last up to a decade.


Quality and Efficiency

Sunpower’s Maxeon multi-layered cell technology is the best quality solar cell available in the market. It has an efficiency of up to 24.3%, which means the product can provide 35% more power than conventional cells.

Conventional cells have exposed metal components that can be vulnerable to corrosion. This might be an issue to consider, especially if your home is near salt water. If you are close to a marine environment, then it is best to consider alternative energy sources. If you want energy efficiency, then flexible solar panels are not the best option.


Product Knowledge

If you are looking for a flexible solar panel that is an inexpensive method for charging your tablet or phone, go for the PET-laminated panels. While the efficiency is 24%, remember you will get less value for more energy-efficient cells.

If you are looking for a flexible solar panel for camping, your RV, your boat, your refrigerator, battery, engine starter or the like, then choose ETSE-laminated panels. They are waterproof, fire-resistant, reliable and durable.


Durability

To ensure that your flexible solar panel has a long lifespan, you need to purchase quality panels from the start. You need to know the materials used in producing the panel. Do a little research first.

Do not buy a solar panel that has any physical damage, such as cracks or scratches, as these will reduce the lifespan and durability of the panel.

Additionally, you'll get more use and life out of your solar panel if you regularly clean it for optimal performance. Do not let dust or dirt accumulate, because these components can cause damage to your panel.

And, if you are traveling and do not need to use your flexible solar panel, then it is best to use a protective cover to extend its lifespan.

Conclusion

solar panels

Solar panels are made of silicon wafers sliced down to just a few micrometers wide. This makes them ultra-thin and flexible. Flexible solar panels are being improved in drastically in the near future by MIT researchers, who have discovered the applications of organic solar cells for graphene electrodes. These organic solar cell electrodes will lead to panels that are even thinner, more stable and flexible than ever before.

Current flexible solar panels fall under the category of “thin-film panels,” and are 300 times smaller than standard silicon solar panels, making them more flexible, lightweight and durable. Flexible solar panels fit many types of solar projects, such as supplying power to RVs or boats, or even charging batteries or your phone.

A flexible solar panel, which is less costly to install than traditional panels, will not compromise the structural integrity of your home. They are lightweight and versatile, making them highly portable and useful during trips. Manufacturing flexible panels is affordable compared to conventional solar panels, and the material used is recyclable after the lifespan of the panel is complete.

Before buying a solar panel, you need to consider the durability, cells used, quality and efficiency, lamination used and how to improve durability.

installing solar panel

The Future of Solar Energy: How Far Can It Take Us?

With the rises in population, urbanization, and commercialization that are occurring, the need for viable renewable energy resources is also rising. Depletion of natural resources is quite a considerable threat to the sustenance of life as we know it.  Solar energy is a landmark in the advancement of the technology that lets us harness the energy from the sun, which we receive in the form of radiation and harness to produce useful energy resources such as electricity.

The future of solar energy is becoming increasingly bright, as it is like a whole treasure of renewable energy resources just waiting to be harnessed.

Studies show that the amount of solar radiation that the earth receives in merely an hour from the sun is more than enough to fuel our global energy needs for almost a year. The future is unpredictable but, given the current trends of solar energy usage and many scientific research studies that have been conducted, solar energy seems like the best answer to our energy resource woes. Let us take a look into the future of solar energy.


What Is the Future of Solar Energy?

light bulb

Solar energy is the energy received from the sun’s radiation, which is then harnessed to make it usable. It is expected to play a vital role in the future energy landscape. This is made possible by photovoltaic (PV) cells, which are commonly used in solar panels, calculators, spacecraft, and other energy-consuming items. These PV cells are made of a type of semi-conductor material, which displays the ‘photovoltaic’ effect. When sunlight hits these PV cells, the photons in sunlight activate the electrons in PV cells and knock them out of their atoms, thus causing them to flow freely through the cell and generate electricity.

In addition, there are large-scale solar-thermal power plants that use technology to concentrate the solar energy to form a strong heat source. This heat is used to boil water, which then drives a steam turbine to generate electricity. This method can be used to provide electricity to thousands of people. In addition, generating electricity by harnessing solar energy emits no carbon dioxide (CO2), which further makes it a sustainable and extremely environmentally friendly choice.

Here we have just scraped the surface, but the possibilities for harnessing solar energy to fulfill our regular electricity needs are immense. The future of solar energy looks bright... literally!


What Are Some Benefits of Solar Power?

Electric Posts

Currently, the actual usage of solar electricity is a nominal 2 percent of the total electricity generation in the United States, even though the potential has been available to reach a minimum of 40%. The future of solar energy and how we harness it depends on several factors which can boost the efficiency of solar panels. Solar energy should become one of the mainstream choices for global electricity needs.


Advanced Technology & Changing Materials

Generous government subsidies for solar energy will fuel the global expansion of solar panel production and use. These subsidies can help in funding for research and development. This can also help experts work further toward the improvement of stability and efficiency of solar panels while reducing their cost of production.


Perovskite

There is a possibility that perovskite (a mineral discovered in the 19th century) will replace crystalline silicon in solar cells. Perovskite not only enhances the efficiency of solar cells but also eases the manufacturing process. The only drawback is its durability, which is yet to match the durability of the historically used crystalline silicon, but the future possibilities are very exciting.


Recycle & Recover

The materials that go into making solar panels are the same set of rare-earth elements that are used by manufacturers of laptops, cell phones, electric vehicles, etc. With the global reserves of such materials constantly shrinking, the future of solar energy is also highly dependent on how these tech giants react to the age-long attempts of solar panel manufacturers to use substitutes like iron pyrite or zinc for production of such high-end devices and gadgets. 

One key consideration: Unless these companies focus on improving their processes for recycling metals and recovery systems, powerful and efficient solar panel recycling infrastructure will remain nothing but a distant dream.


Growth in Usage

Solar energy accounts for just one percent of global electricity production, but facts and research states that this number will see an exponential rise to 16% by 2050. Use of rooftop solar panels will increase remarkably with time, but analysts’ state that the game-changing expansion will happen in the utility scale.


Cost-Efficiency

Changing economies, more availability, and reduced costs for the materials used will likely bring down the price of solar panels largely in the near future. Analysts have tentatively forecast a price drop of about 17% is expected between 2018 and 2022. 

Some places in the USA and a few other nations around the world have already been able to achieve grid parity. This means that the cost of harnessing solar energy for electricity is now equal to or lower than purchasing energy from the grid. Even though improvements in solar manufacturing are highly responsible for the price drop across the industry, the steadily increasing number of solar panel installations and financial initiatives to make ends meet are also equally involved in bringing down the cost.


What Are Some Benefits of Solar Power?

Here are some of the most important reasons to keep developing solar power:

  • Solar energy comes from a natural source and is both sustainable and renewable, which means we will never run out of it
  • Solar panels require minimal maintenance once you have installed the panels and the panels are working at maximum efficiency
  • Only nominal maintenance work is required each year, which means lower costs overall
  • Zero emissions add to the benefits of solar power generation and makes it a sustainable and environment-friendly option
  • While PV cells convert sunlight to usable energy, there is absolutely no noise from the PV panel
  • Constant advancements in solar energy harnessing technology are gradually reducing the cost of production
  • The efficiency of solar panels is steadily improving, making the future of solar energy even more cost-effective


Future Solar Products and Uses

solar panel

 

Revamped Solar Panels

Solar panels as we know and commonly see them now might not be quite the same a few years down the line. Researchers and scientists are coming up with new alterations and up gradations all the time aimed to enhance and improve their efficiency. Michigan State University-based researchers have developed a prototype for transparent (or clear) solar panels that can be used in various places like buildings, commercial spaces, vehicles, and even cell phones.

The scope of application might be immense for clear solar panels. But since this technology is still in its infancy, the efficiency is a mere 5% compared to the 15% efficiency of traditional solar panels we have today. It might take a few more years to increase the efficiency of these panels, and then they may really become the game-changer in taking solar energy into the mainstream.


Solar Shingles

Solar shingles are a recently developed type of black- and blue-colored panels that might take the industry by storm. These look like the usual roof shingles we often see, but they are equipped with solar cells. When connected in a series, these cells generate a similar amount of electricity to a same-sized, conventional solar panel. Many companies and technology giants are penetrating the solar shingle market with an expectation of taking this technology to people sceptical about installing huge, clunky solar panels on their roofs.

Transparent solar panels and solar shingles are advancements in this field that could change the landscape of the solar panel market globally and make it mainstream.


Microgrids

Microgrids (another name for "decentralized electricity production setup") are also a part of the future of solar energy. These are effective in powering up a limited area like a village or a neighborhood. This makes microgrids an ideal medium to bring expansion on a global scale and ensure the power and utility of solar energy spreads to developing countries where harnessing energy to produce electricity is of the utmost importance. Such places, which were otherwise off the grid due to the expenses, can readily be a part of this expansion. That is the most exciting thing microgrids have to offer.


Conclusion

house

The use of solar panels and PV cells is steadily increasing in both urban and rural regions globally. We have just scratched the surface of the benefits and necessity of harnessing solar energy, and it is only a matter of time before solar energy can be used to power up the world.

With the raging battle against worsening climate change, the need for a renewable source of energy is huge and pressing. Solar energy can be a saving grace and play a major role in the mitigation of climate change all around the world. It is clean, environment friendly, efficient, highly sustainable, and renewable. With more advancements in research to come in this industry, a solar-powered world might be right around the corner.

QuantumScape signage

Why QuantumScape Could Be The Future Of Smart Cars?

The burgeoning ubiquity of electric vehicles in the United States, Europe, Japan, and elsewhere around the world is attracting the attention of technology companies, automobile manufacturers, venture capitalists, and consumers. The massive untapped market means competition in the development and mass production of the best batteries for electric vehicles will be one of the great innovations of our present chapter in history. The companies that achieve this end will have set up their businesses to succeed well beyond the foreseeable future.

Surprisingly, the United States has only one car in the race. Outside of QuantumScape, a California based company, every company with a major part to play in the coming story is Japanese or German.

The electric vehicle industry in the United States sits in a precarious position at the moment. The price and supply of fuel is not as worrisome as it was five years ago. Advancements in electric vehicle battery technology have stalled. Outside of the familiar small, hybrid models, no electric car has demonstrated an ability to send reverberations through the market. The catalyst positioned to release this deadlock is the successful production of a solid-state lithium battery. It is the only technology with significant chances of truly altering the landscape of the electric vehicle industry in the United States.

Based on their relationship to Volkswagen, QuantumScape is likely the company that will be America's most vibrant representative in the industry going forward.

 

What Is QuantumScape?

fuelling the car

QuantumScape is a battery technology company formed in 2010 as a spinoff of Stanford research and talent. The company stands out amongst other companies developing similar technologies because it is valued at more than a billion dollars despite its lack of a consistent revenue stream or a plurality of deliverable products. This discrepancy is explained largely by the company's numerous investors, including Volkswagen which recently invested $100 million in the company, and its experienced, battle-tested board of directors.

Industry Background

QuantumScape has emerged as a major player in the race to develop a more commercially viable, and hence more profitable, battery for electric cars. The company hopes to achieve a substantial breakthrough in the production of solid-state lithium batteries, a technology being monitored and invested in by a wide variety of companies from Dyson to Toyota. Since the inception of the lithium-ion battery by EXXON in the 1970s, no company or state actor has been able to successfully produce a viable solid-state lithium battery.

The development of such a battery is imperative to the advancement of electric energy, especially in cars, because current lithium battery technology is highly reactive and hence the technology is perceived by consumers to be unsafe. The currently unavailable solid-state alternative ensures more stability, safety, and consumer confidence.

QuantumScape's Long-Term Goals

Volkswagen has been working in coordination with QuantumScape since 2012 to develop a solid-state lithium battery, but their collective goal for mass-production is not projected to launch until 2025. The length of this time frame underscores the difficulty of the task. Positivity regarding progress in electric vehicles has slackened in recent years as scientists and researchers have struggled to make traditional lithium battery products more efficient.

To bridge this gap would mean irreparably changing the trajectory of the electric vehicle market in the United States. Solid-state batteries offer greater safety, faster-charging intervals, a more compact product, and most importantly greater energy density

Lithium Batteries vs. Traditional Fuel

gas station

The transition from traditional fuel to electric power in our vehicles is assured; the timeline on which this shift occurs, however, is not. Currently, advances in battery technology are insufficient to bring a vehicle to market that would inspire sufficient confidence in consumers to facilitate a large-scale transition from fuel to electric power in vehicles around the world, and especially in the United States. Constraints on a vehicle's range present the most onerous challenge for companies that develop battery technology to address in the near future.

The Stubborn Advantages of Traditional Fuel

The stasis in battery development has been met by a resurgent traditional fuel industry brought back to life by an increased supply, primarily from the United States, falling prices, and increased fuel efficiency in vehicles using traditional fuel. Furthermore, there is lingering resistance to costs in infrastructure changes necessary for the proliferation of electric vehicles. These trends have obfuscated the threats of energy insecurity and permanent environmental damage posed by the continued use of fossil fuels.


The Limited Achievements of Lithium-Ion Batteries

In reference to the electric vehicle industry, battery technology has been widely successful in disseminating products that enable consumers to buy hybrid electric vehicles at commercially viable prices and drive their electric vehicles regularly without significant impediment. Vehicles powered solely by electricity, on the other hand, are too expensive for the average consumer and come with a limited range that makes a large segment of consumers uncomfortable.

Without a wider range and a more palatable price tag, electric vehicles cannot hope to make substantial inroads in the market for family vehicles in the United States: the most significant segment of the market for any company hoping to maintain a robust presence in the United States.

Solid-State Lithium Batteries

Solid-state lithium batteries differ from lithium-ion batteries in that a lithium-ion battery requires a liquid electrolyte to facilitate movement between electrodes within the battery. A solid-state battery, like the one being developed by QuantumScape, would achieve the same movement between electrodes with a solid electrolyte. This improvement promises to improve the energy density of the battery which in turn increases the range of the vehicle being powered by the hypothetical solid-state lithium battery.

Additionally, the energy density of a solid-state battery would provide a greater tolerance to high temperatures, less reactivity to dangerous materials, and a more compact product. These advances could take the electric-only powered car from an outlier to the norm.

Best Smart Cars of the Future

electric car

Even as fuel has become more readily available, the transition to electric vehicles is a palpable facet of the modern automotive industry. The companies that bring the future of high-quality, accessible electric vehicles to consumers first will be watching their enterprises grow for untold decades. With the stakes this high, the competition is thick. BMW, Honda, Hyundai, and Nissan have all invested in solid-state lithium battery research.

For QuantumScape and their partner Volkswagen, Toyota may be the fiercest competitor. Toyota has been working with Panasonic since 2014 to develop a solid-state lithium battery, a relationship that reflects the Japanese counter to nascent Chinese competition in the industry. QuantumScape's value as a company compared to the declining market share held by Panasonic indicates Volkswagen may have the slight edge.

The e-Golf

The Golf is currently Volkswagen's best selling model and is particularly popular in European countries where the small, fuel-efficient vehicle accommodates consumers desire to save on expensive European taxes on fossil fuels. Volkswagen is eager to bring the e-Golf to the market, an all-electric iteration of its namesake powered with a solid-state lithium battery which would increase the range of the vehicle to between 700 and 750 kilometers, or roughly 450 miles.

This achievement would win a massive market share in Europe where consumers could circumnavigate fuel costs and the incumbent taxes altogether. In the United States success would be more limited. The size of the Golf precludes the vehicle from becoming a staple in the United States where consumers value room for the comfortable transport of an entire family of four, at least.

Electric Concept Cars

In an effort to cater to a global market looking for a vehicle that provides more than basic transportation without an exorbitant cost, Volkswagen is developing four fully electric cars in which the company hopes to use a solid-state lithium battery. These vehicles are all family-friendly, four-door vehicles, one of which is modeled on the classic Volkswagen Bus, and all would have comfortable interiors and driving ranges for consumers in the United States looking to make a complete transition to electric vehicles.

The e-Golf's success will be an important step in the advancement of QuantumScape's technologies and Volkswagen's market share in the United States but dominance cannot be achieved without a range of products that can be readily marketed to middle-class families who want reliable, comfortable vehicles regardless of the energy source.

Conclusion

car charge sign

QuantumScape's development of an ostensibly viable solid-state lithium battery makes the young company a likely torchbearer on the road to a complete transition to electric vehicles in the United States and around the world. Despite a tempered resurgence in the viability of traditional fuel, the popularity of electric vehicles, particularly hybrid-electric vehicles has continued to increase. Market gains have been most severely limited by stagnant improvements in battery technology. 

The most promising possibility for release from stalemate is the development of a solid-state lithium battery which would increase the energy density of the batteries used in electric vehicles, expanding their range. In collaboration with Volkswagen, QuantumScape seems poised to take a serious run at a large segment of the electric vehicle industry in competition with Toyota and their partner, Panasonic. 

coal tower

Pros & Cons of Nuclear Energy

No matter how many years go by since the 1940s, we have all remained somewhat apprehensive about the stability of nuclear energy, and sadly this fear has only been fueled by a few catastrophic events that have occurred: Chernobyl (1986), 3 Mile Island (1987), and Fukushima (2011), but these events did not result in the death of anywhere near as many people who have died in coal and oil related disasters. However, it's still important to know the pros and cons of nuclear energy so you can better understand why it's so desirable despite the dangers associated with it.

The world's demand for more energy only continues to grow and we have to find the technology that will rise to the occasion. However, we would ideally do so in the best interest of our environment. Despite our unpleasant run-ins with nuclear power, it is one of the most environmentally friendly sources of power and it is in our best interest as a growing population to find alternative sources of power that don’t harm our planet. This article will compare some relevant pros and cons of nuclear energy as an alternative source of power.

WHAT IS NUCLEAR ENERGY?

Nuclear energy is the product of a phenomenon called Nuclear Fission. Fission occurs when splitting the atom of a nucleus. Because of this occurrence, it releases a large amount of energy. Despite the fear and anxiety still left by nuclear energy it is understandable that people are hesitant to accept it as anything but destruction.


The reason it is still being considered as an alternative source to fossil fuels, is ultimately that the process results in far less damage to the environment overall in comparison. There are many pros and cons of nuclear energy, what it can do, and how it compares to other forms of generating power. But this article will not be expanding on the scientific attributes of this form of energy and its production process.

nuclear fission

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF NUCLEAR ENERGY

Nuclear energy produces around 10% of the world's power and we could produce several times that amount of nuclear energy at will. It is the cleanest form of energy we know of at present, and it offers much lower emissions including carbon dioxide. In addition, it takes a rather small amount of uranium to output a massive amount of power and the average nuclear reactor lasts around 40 to 60 years, but the lifetime of a nuclear reactor is contingent on the how much power it is intended to produce and the quality of its function. Let's move on to the pros and cons of nuclear energy for this article.
 

Pros of Nuclear Energy

source of nuclear energy

Listed below are some positive attributes of nuclear energy and what it offers in terms of clean energy, reliability, quality, and cost.


Less Pollution​


In no capacity does nuclear energy production burn chemicals in the process of producing nuclear energy, so there is no release of harsh gases into the air. In fact, the fluffy clouds that are given off by the stacks of a nuclear plant is only vaporized water. Those "stacks" are large cooling towers filled with water intended for keeping the nuclear reactor(s) from overheating. For the sake of this brief on the pros and cons of nuclear energy, we will also come back to this in our cons list. Nuclear energy is still the most environmentally friendly form of alternative fuel and electricity.


More Reliable than Other Forms of Clean Energy

Solar and Wind energy both rely on weather to produce power. Not to say it is impractical, but to produce large amounts of power constantly it is not exactly ideal. A nuclear power plant can run constantly, uninterrupted, making power for up to about a year. It also maintains a shelf life once produced and can even be stored for much longer than fossil fuels. Nuclear power also does not require the use of any kind of fossil fuels to be produced. Therefore, it is unaffected by the uncontrollably fluctuating costs of gas and oil.


More Electricity for Less Money

Although building new plants can be costly at first, there is a discussion of upgrading existing plants to improve volume instead of building entirely new ones. Regardless, once they are running smoothly, they are inexpensive. That is without mentioning the amount of power they produce will minimal resource. These plants produce electricity with nuclear reactors which is cheaper than coal, gas, or any other fossil fuels.

Uranium is also much cheaper than one would expect, but this does not additionally calculate the cost and expenses of the hauling and safe disposal of various kinds of radioactive material. There is no particular procedure for the disposal of the radioactive material nuclear fission creates as a byproduct.

Cons of Nuclear Energy

hydrogen bomb

Listed below are some negative attributes of nuclear energy and how it affects the environment, weaponry and warfare, disaster, and radioactive filth.


The Nuclear Elephant in the Room


The biggest concern with nuclear energy is the disposing of the used fuel remains which are radioactive and possibly dangerous. Although highly dangerous in mass quantities, which a typical plant produces around 20 metric tons of used nuclear fuel per year. This used fuel takes hundreds of years to decompose to a state that is safe enough for humans to coexist.


This is one quality other sources of fuel do not deal with. This point of Nuclear Power production evokes thoughts of the 1970s through the 1980s when plants were dumping their waste into the ocean and other bodies of water. None of those things take place in our modern world and there are now laws in place to protect against illegal dumping of toxic waste.


 

Use of Nuclear Energy as a Weapon


Nuclear power generation is far from the process of making nuclear weapons, but it poses a threat if exposed to the wrong person or group. In the wrong hands this technology can cause the entire world a whole mess of trouble. Recalling Hiroshima, imagine the potential of that on a worldwide scale. Well, that's what people imagine when they think of "weapons of mass destruction," but those with access to this technology are known and monitored. Interest in this kind of power grows every day, especially as the possibilities evolve from science and energy to weaponry.



Non-Renewable Radioactive Fuel


Uranium can not be re-used, therefore nuclear energy is not a renewable source. But there has been a discussion of the other possibilities uranium may offer to convert it into energy. If not handled properly, even the designated drops of waste can end catastrophically. It quickly contaminates its surroundings and spreads as it ages. Nuclear disasters like the accident at Chernobyl in 1986, leave the environment surrounding the plants uninhabitable by human life. The high levels of radiation have been unsafe for several years and it likely won’t change anytime soon. The damage left behind both in the people and places is still overwhelming to this day.

CONCLUSION

nuclear power

We hope this article has helped you better understand the pros and cons of nuclear energy, and here we offer our final thoughts.

Pros and Cons of Nuclear Energy Compared

Good arguments can be made for both the pros and cons of nuclear energy as an alternative source of power. Although it has so many safe benefits, the negative results are dangerous and not so for the human death toll, but the environmental impact. But when you consider the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that fill our atmosphere, coal, oil fires and accidents happen more often than someone it hurt in a nuclear power workplace environment.

The nuclear industry is firm with their safety in the workplace, and catastrophic incidents are rare, but when an accident can be as devastating as a nuclear meltdown, it causes the public to worry. The shocks of the past remain at the forefront of the public's’ mind and it immediately turns them off to anything related to nuclear energy.

Don't Give into Fear

Despite the negative impacts, overall nuclear energy is technically the least threatening of all forms of energy. With every other fossil fuel dissolving our atmosphere, nuclear energy may be the only way to dismiss the amount of greenhouse gases emitted during the production of nuclear energy, but if we were to fully explore the benefits of having nuclear energy, we would need to create a plan to manage the disposal of used fuel.

Until then no one will truly be ready to trust in any kind of casual use of nuclear power, we desperately need as I world continues to grow. Perhaps finding more ways to combat this issue would evolve as we further experiment within the parameters we have at present, but as much as some may not want to admit it, we are getting close to the point of needing to put the wheels of large-scale nuclear fission in motion.

examining rocks

Climate Change Jobs: Availability, Salaries, & More

Climate change is a global concern making climate change jobs not only an interesting profession but a necessity. The Earth has grown through periods of changing climate throughout its history and at least some of this is natural. Most of you will be familiar with the various ice ages that the planet has undergone, but there have also been various warming and cooling periods. Many of you may be surprised to learn that as recently as the Middle Ages, various parts of the world had climates very different than what they have today.

In spite of the various natural changes in climate associated with the Earth and its weather, the recent changes in climate have become apparent even to lay people, causing the public to have greater interest in these changes and in the profession. What this means for people interested in climate change is that there is likely to be more investment in the industry and that means more jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, predicts an 11 percent increase in jobs in environmental science over the next year, comfortably above the national average.

What Is Climate Change?

crack soil

A discussion of climate change jobs would not be complete without a discussion of climate change. Part of this discussion will necessarily include becoming familiar with the kind of individuals that are involved in combatting climate change at all levels. This effort includes many different individuals from activists, lobbyists and fundraisers to environmental scientists and engineers. Fighting the process of unhealthy weather changes will involve a large number of people working in climate change jobs at all levels.

A 2018 Nobel Prize was given to an economist, Paul Romer, whose work at the World Bank and other institutions involved integrating technological advances into economic policy to effect changes into problems including climate change. The awarding of this prize not only underscores how significant climate change is, it also highlights that even economists can be involved in the work of addressing climate change and making suggestions regarding how governments and international organizations can address it.

So what is climate change? This term refers to the statistical change in weather patterns over an extended period of time. In other words, changes in temperature, precipitation, storms or other natural phenomena that are not brief or documented occasionally, but which represent a changed pattern. The climate change that most of you will be familiar with is the change that we associate with human activity. A large number of human activities are proposed to affect climate, including:

  • 1
    Use of fossil fuels
  • 2
    Carbon dioxide emissions from industry and other activities
  • 3
    Aerosol emissions
  • 4
    Animal husbandry
  • 5
    Deforestation

Climate change is also known as global warming, and one can glean from this list that not only are there many common activities that contribute to global warming, but there are many ways (and many professionals) that can combat this trend. What this means for people interested in working in climate change or global warming is that you have many points of entry into the field. This also means that the sort of salaries that you can expect to earn will also tend to be quite variable.

What Are Climate Change Jobs?

lava sampling

There are many climate change jobs available. Many individuals work in climate change activities even though their training or the normal scope of their work may be outside the realm of climate change. Although it is true that an economist or a hard scientist may find his work overlapping with matters of climate change, strictly speaking, these professionals would generally be considered outside the scope of climate change jobs. In general, jobs in climate change would typically include the following professionals (among others):

  • Environmental Scientists
  • Environmental Specialists
  • Environmental Analysts
  • Environmental Consultants and Advisors
  • Program Directors
  • Project Managers
  • Researchers and Research Fellows
  • Fundraisers and Fundraising Managers
  • Administrators

This is just a small subset of the types of jobs that are normally encountered in organizations working in climate change. They represent the reality that organizations involved in global warming need workers at all levels, from interns and researchers up to scientists, analysts, program directors and administrators. Climate change jobs therefore naturally encompass both the workers normally found in climate change organizations as well as individuals working in the field for the government, universities or other large bodies involved in work with large research budgets.

It should be clear that there is some degree of overlap in the work involved in climate change jobs. For example, an environmental engineer can work as a consultant, analyst, project manager or in administration. As a convenient starting point to understand climate change jobs and their trajectory, we will take a look at the work of environmental scientists and how their profession is expected to change in the United States in the near future.

Environmental scientists are scientists involved in research and data collection on environmental issues. Environmental scientists may have training in one of several different areas including environmental science, geology, hydrology, agricultural science, or other related fields. Environmental scientists may work for different types of organizations and in many different settings. In terms of education, environmental scientists have at least a bachelor’s degree although master’s degrees are common and may be required for some jobs.

Some workers in environmental science pursue higher education and training in the form of doctoral degrees or postdoctoral training programs. The typical work functions for environmental scientists include the collection and analysis of data and the regulatory work of keeping up with government standards and making sure that the organizations they work for are adherent to code.

What Is the Current Availability of Climate Change Jobs?

using the microscope

Climate change jobs are widely available all over the United States, encompassing the roles listed above. Workers in this field are engaged in all levels of work, from interns and entry-level researchers straight on up. An interesting facet of the field of climate change is that there are companies and organizations that specialize solely in this work, as well as government bodies, institutes and educational establishments that hire workers in this field.

Environmental scientists and other climate change workers can find themselves working for many different types of organizations. Although environmental scientists commonly work for government organizations, they may also work for consulting firms and other private organizations. Workers in environmental science commonly work in the laboratory setting, but they may be involved in fieldwork or other data collection activities. Their hours may be irregular with junior workers often working longer hours.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, reports that there were approximately 90,000 jobs for environmental scientists and specialists in 2017. The profession is expected to grow by 11 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is a faster rate than the projected growth in all jobs over the same time frame in the United States. The typical requirement for entry into this profession is a bachelor’s degree. Though salaries will be discussed in the next section, workers with higher levels of education, training and experience generally can expect to earn higher salaries.

In addition to education, training, and experience, other variables can impact the salary and job outlook of workers in climate change jobs. One of the important factors impacting salary and job outlook is organization. Many climate change jobs involve work for the government and some government climate change jobs in environmental science can pay well into the six-figure range.

What Are Typical Salaries for Climate Change Jobs?

walking in a sulfuric place

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for environmental scientists and specialists in 2017 was $69,400. These salaries fell within a range, with the lowest 10 percent earning less than about $41,000 and the highest 10 percent earning more than $122,510. Contrary to what some might expect, jobs for the federal government tend to pay higher than average, which we touched on earlier. The median wage for environmental scientists and specialist working or the government was $101,400.

Earnings for environmental scientists and specialists compared well to workers in other, related occupations according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. They earned slightly less than physical scientists, who had a median wage of about $78,000 in 2017. The BLS predicts that there will be an increase of nearly 10,000 jobs in this field between 2016 and 2026, which may positively impact salaries as interest in this area of international concern grows.

Conclusion

Workers in climate change jobs have the satisfaction of knowing they are not only satisfying their own interests in this exciting area of work and study but also addressing a serious world problem. Climate change is irreversible and various government organizations and other bodies have risen to the challenge of coming up with solutions to an ever-growing problem. What this means for prospective workers in climate change jobs is that they can expect a relatively high and stable salary in government work, and a prospected job growth that will exceed the national average over the next ten years.

car and windmill on the back

Is a Wind Powered Car an Actual Possibility?

In the relatively short history of the automobile, gas powered cars have dominated the market. The wind powered car, the solar powered car, and others have not been as successful. The internal combustion engine was invented during the industrial revolution and, since then, we’ve been using it to power lots and lots of things that keep our society going. However, what we didn’t realize when we were inventing the combustion engine over 100 years ago is that burning gasoline, which comes from fossil fuels, creates a lot harmful emissions. There is a lot of debate over the effect of emissions on the environment, but a significant percentage of scientists agree that we are polluting our air and our water by burning the amount of fossil fuels that we are burning. We may also be causing our planet to heat up, which could upset the balance of our climate. If the earth’s climate were to shift even slightly, large portions of the planet may suddenly become uninhabitable for humans. This would, understandably, be devastating.

car near the beach

Another issue we have with using cars powered by gasoline is that fossil fuels are a finite resource. We don’t have infinite oil. At some point, we are going to run out, because we are using the resource faster than we can replace it. Our society is very dependent on cars for transportation, and many modes of public transportation also currently use gasoline for power. In order to meet the growing need for transportation, we will have to find alternative means of power. We need to find ways to make things “go” that don’t use finite, non-renewable resources. This means, it’s time for us to turn to renewable resources. It’s time for us to seriously consider the wind powered car.

What Is Wind Power?

Wind power is the process of creating electricity, or powering a car, using the air flow that occurs naturally in the earth’s atmosphere. Generally, wind turbines are used to harness kinetic energy from the wind and generate power. In the wind powered car, the turbines are smaller and built into the body of the car. There are 3 types of wind energy:

Offshore Wind

turbine till

This type of wind power uses very large turbines that are placed offshore, near the continental shelf. Because they are large and far out at sea, they can generate a lot of power.

Utility-Scale Wind

Utility-Scale Wind

This uses turbines that can generate 100 kilowatts to megawatts of power. These turbines are generally used to create power for electric utilities.

Distributed or “Small” Wind

windmill

This type uses small turbines to directly power a home or a small business. They are not part of a grid.

How Does It Work?

When wind moves turbines, the blades capture kinetic energy. The action of turning the blades turns that kinetic energy into mechanical energy. The rotating blades turn a shaft connect to a gearbox. The gearbox spins a generator to make electricity.

What Does a Turbine Look Like?

pinwheel

Turbines are generally at least 250 feet tall and attached to a steel tower. A hub holds 3 blades, and the “nacelle” holds the shaft, the gearbox, the generator, and the controls. The turbines measure the wind and turn themselves into the strongest wind. The blades are pitched to capture the most energy.

How Much Wind Does It Need?

Typically, the wind must be blowing at least 6 to 9 miles per hour to generate power. If the wind speed increases above 55 miles per hour, the turbines will shut down.

How Much Power Is Produced?

In a year, a wind turbine will generally produce power about 90 percent of the time. The faster the wind, the greater the production. Production from turbines is measured in a “Capacity Factor.” If a turbine has the ability to produce 18,000 megawatt-hours, but the wind only blew hard enough to produce 8,000 megawatt-hours, then the capacity factor is 45 percent. Generally, wind farms have capacity factors higher than 40 percent and are on par with coal or natural gas plants.

Windmills vs. Wind Turbines

house and turbine

A windmill and a wind turbine are not the same thing. A windmill uses the wind to produce mechanical energy to do a specific job, like grind grain. A wind turbine turns the mechanical energy into electricity.

What Is a Wind Farm?

wind farm

A wind farm is a large group of turbines built together to generate electricity for a power plant.

How Is Wind Energy Distributed?

Once the energy is generated, it heads to the power plant and is sent to consumers as electricity in the same way as any other type of energy.

Would a Wind Powered Car Work?

Wind powered cars have already been designed and tested, and they do work. Generally, turbines are built into the outside of the car and use vents to channel air toward the turbines. Most wind powered cars also need another power source for startup and to provide longer drive times. To stay environmentally friendly, most use solar power as the alternate energy source. Some use electricity and need to be recharged at home or at a charging station. These are the pros and cons of a wind powered car:

Pros

  • Very clean energy
  • Wind is sustainable
  • Wind is free

Cons

  • Wind is unpredictable
  • Aesthetics (doesn’t always look good)
  • Might be expensive up front

The other problems with wind powered cars at this point are making them go fast enough for the highway and making sure they provide enough hours of drive time. For perpetual use, you would need a relatively sunny environment to keep the solar panels charging and enough wind to drive the turbines when in motion. There are still some design kinks to work out, as well as the need to bring the costs down. As with any new technology, the startup costs can sometimes be prohibitive. However, for the future of the planet we’re going to leave our children, we need to find solutions to these problems. As we find better ways to answer these questions, wind powered cars are definitely an option for the future.

Current Designs of Wind Powered Cars

There are a few wind powered cars on the market right now. They are not widely sold or used, but they are demonstrating great strides in technology. Here are a few examples of what’s out there in wind powered cars.

Toyota Mirai

toyota car

“Mirai” means “future” in Japanese. It is currently one of only 28 fuel cell cars on the road in the UK. Its hydrogen cells are generated by the wind power. This model is capable of 37 miles per gallon and can go about 340 miles once fully charged.

The Ventomobile

This wind powered car was built in 2008 by German students. It had a wind turbine on top and ran on 3 wheels. It isn’t very fast, but it was the first truly wind powered car.

Lotus Nemesis

Some argue that this is actually the first wind powered car. It’s a hybrid that also uses electric power. The turbine is outside the car for better results. While in motion, the turbine charges the battery, thereby producing its own electricity. This was the first vehicle to place the turbine on the outside of the vehicle. The car is the creation of Tang Zhengping, who wanted to try and reduce the emissions in China, his native country. The car can reach 90 mph and the batteries need to be recharged every 2-3 days.

Formula Zero

This is a wind powered car with 4 electric motors. Its purpose is to making racing not just about speed, but about energy efficiency and utilizing natural resources. It’s quoted to have, “The thrill of Formula One, the track dynamics of the bobsled or luge, and the grace and efficiency of yacht racing.”

Conclusion

At the rate we are using our natural resources like coal and oil, it is imperative that we find alternative fuel sources over the next century. One very viable energy source is wind power, and wind powered cars. We need transportation. We live in a global economy, and we need to be able to travel. Our goal should be to make that travel easy on the environment and our wallets. Putting funds into research for better wind powered cars is an excellent step in this direction. With a little more work, wind powered cars could be one of the future methods of transportation. Or, we may see more and more vehicles that combine wind and solar power. We will have to change our expectations slightly, as clean energy cars don’t have the same sound and feel as gasoline powered cars. We have a lot of memories and nostalgia mixed in with how we feel about our cars, especially as Americans. And we should preserve that history. The era of gasoline powered vehicles was an important step in our industrial history. However, we have to move on to more sustainable ways of getting around. By embracing wind powered cars, even with their differences, we will make a huge difference in the future of our planet.

a man besides the windmill

How Green Technologies Could Lead The Way To World-Wide Economic Prosperity

Environmental sustainability is often pitted against economic prosperity by mainstream economists and politicians without realizing that these two go hand in hand. However, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who invest in green technology have long recognized that these two entities are highly complementing rather than competing.

In the past, pollution and environmental destruction were seen as an inevitable byproduct of economic prosperity. And even up to this day, the government and economists measure national wellbeing using a highly limited set of indicators that include economy, crime, education, job security, social cohesion, etc.

However, recent surveys have shown that aside from economic prosperity, a growing number of people are also concerned about the natural environment, particularly relating to the natural resources for the wellbeing of their future generations.

In a nutshell, green technology aims to mitigate or reverse the environmental impact of human activities through sustainable and eco-friendly production process or supply chain. While it often alludes to energy production that is less harmful to the environment than more traditional methods, it encompasses a myriad of inventions and innovations that address safety and health concerns, diminishing resources, looming pollution, and food and water scarcity.

Is There a Need for Green Technology?

Green technology offers valuable gifts: economic prosperity, equitable wealth distribution, job creation, a solution to the looming energy crisis and climate change, among others.

While green technology is a relatively young market, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and investors bet on its potential amidst the looming energy crisis, widespread pollution, and continuous depletion of many natural resources.

Here is the list of crises that green technology can solve or at least mitigate.

Energy Crisis

gas pump

Image Credit via Pixabay

Economic prosperity is closely tied to having reliable and sustainable energy sources. Unfortunately, most countries still rely on fossil fuels such as gas, oil, and coal, which are all finite sources; generating power through these fuels is also one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.

According to studies, the earth will run out of fossil fuels in 2088. Hence, it is imperative to address this looming problem, especially with the fact that industrialized countries obtain more than 95 percent of their energy from this finite source.

Green technology and renewable energy sources will not just solve the energy crisis, which is exacerbated by the steady increase in the world’s population and the growing demand for fuels, but will also help to reduce greenhouse gas emission and eventually avoid catastrophic climate change.

Job Insecurity

Green technology and policies that promote this market help to foster economic prosperity through the generation of “decent” jobs, which offer safer working conditions, more security, better wages, and better career prospects than “brown” jobs in polluting industries.

Studies have also suggested that mitigating climate change and pollution inevitably create high-quality employment.

Looming Poverty

Climate change and the depletion and destruction of finite natural resources can exacerbate poverty. This may sound like a paradox as they are seen as the ill effects but inescapable results of economic prosperity and growth.

children

Image Credit via Pixabay

But there is nothing contradictory with the above-mentioned statement. Economic prosperity might be possible amidst widespread poverty due to inequitable wealth distribution. The government and traditional economists and educators further downplay the impact of the environmental condition on national wellbeing by focusing too much on indicators related to job, money, health, and education.

But with green technology whose aim is to address ecosystem degradation, pollution, natural resource depletion, and energy crisis, the poor may have a fighting chance to improve their condition. After all, they are the most affected stakeholder because they often live in the most fragile areas and have limited resources.

Furthermore, eradicating or at least mitigating the ill effects of human activities on the environment is the key to achieve and sustain economic prosperity that will reach the whole population.

Widespread Pollution

Pollution not just threatens our water and food sources, it also compromises the well-being of people and their future generation’s health and food security. Hence, one of the focal points of green technology is recycling, which mitigates the depletion of the natural resources.

smoke from the power plant

Image Credit via Pixabay

And with more sophisticated recycling techniques, it has now become possible to construct houses and buildings that are mostly made of recycled materials. To further reduce environmental impact, scientists and engineers are creating new home, office, and building designs and features that reduce energy consumption.

Consumer and industrial products are also a great contributor to water and air pollution, according to a recent survey. This could change with green technology that aims to search and create products whose contents and production processes have a minimal impact on the environment.

With the benefits mentioned above of green technology, anyone may easily surmise that it is closely tied to sustained economic prosperity.

How Can It Aid Economic Prosperity?

clean river and ducks

Image Credit via Pixabay

Economic prosperity, in the traditional sense, is the state of wealth and quality of life. In any country, the way to increase wealth and living standards is to promote and sustain entrepreneurship, innovation, and competition. However, this might be an outdated definition as more people believe that the environmental condition—i.e., access to green spaces, clean air and water, and ecological preservation for future generations—should also matter when measuring the national well-being.

Simply put, the natural environment should be included on the list of indicators of economic prosperity and national wellbeing if the government and economists truly want to “measure what matters most.”

Read on the list that explains how green technology can foster economic prosperity.

  • There is a market for clean technology. Due to the looming energy crisis, climate change, and diminishing natural resources, there is no other choice but to shift to this market that is worth around US$1.35 trillion annually.
  • Green technology and its recent innovations are stimulating demand for sustainably sourced goods and eco-friendly services.
  • It also enhances productivity. By using natural resources efficiently and sustainably, green technology is the key to long-term economic prosperity in which the gist is to allocate the resources to the highest value of use. At the same time, this market is drastically reducing waste and energy consumption.
  • Green technology can solve or at least improve resource bottlenecks, which are the biggest threat to long-term economic prosperity. Moreover, it reduces environmental impact and thus secures our and our future generation’s food source.
  • Boosts investor confidence in a country. Savvy entrepreneurs and investors know that most of our products and services derived from finite sources, some of which are already ruined or depleted. Fortunately, green technology has proven itself as a lucrative market, especially now that a growing number of consumers are demanding for greener products. Consumers are increasingly becoming more aware of the great strain on the natural sources, and so there is a growing preference for less polluting, safer, and healthier products and services.
  • Green technology contributes to fiscal consolidations. It may sound ironic, but a great number of highly polluting industries receive government subsidies. One good example is the

Conclusion

Despite the seemingly boundless opportunity with green technology and its auspicious impact on economic prosperity, it remains indispensable to tailor it to the specific community circumstances. Hence, the people should be made aware that every effort to reduce carbon footprint has a direct and indirect effect on their livelihood, the quality of their life, and their progeny’s well-being or even their survival.

Meanwhile, clean and green technology applies to multiple sectors, and so its impact on economic prosperity and growth is something that can’t be easily ignored. Sectors such as agriculture, energy industry, transportation, manufacturing, and building are arguably the best targets because they are the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and pollution.

The sectors mentioned above are great recipients of green technology because of the recent innovations in recycling and process technology, and also better access to new information and sustainably sourced materials.

However, companies that aim to adopt green technologies face barriers such as lack of information, lack of human resources and skills, lack of or inability to access alternative raw materials and chemicals, expensive process technology, among others. Consequently, the only way to pave the way for tangible economic prosperity—i.e., poverty reduction and a more fair distribution of wealth—is to identify and eliminate these obstacles.

rocky forest path

Image Credit via Pixabay

But as a relatively new market, green technology stakeholders, the private sector, government, and NGOs have yet to create an all-encompassing process that will remove the obstacles mentioned above that deter large-scale dissemination of eco-friendly products, services, and processes.

Widespread dissemination of green technology is critical to developing countries, which are experiencing their initial phase of economic prosperity and growth that is closely tied to substantial environmental impact. During this period, they exploit local or sometimes even the global natural resources to feed the so-called progress. Failure to intervene during this most critical phase can threaten the world’s biodiversity and the very survival of humanity.

Renewable Energy Jobs and Careers

With the massive increase in interest in renewable energy, many new jobs and careers are appearing in this industry. We will discuss several of the major categories, and provide some of the issues that said areas will be focused on in the near future. If the immediate future is a bigger concern for you, you can look for current jobs listing posted here.

 

Research

Currently there is extensive research occurring on many aspects of renewable energy, such as how to allow it to better suit our needs a modern, industrialized country, as well as on how to squeeze the maximum possible efficiency out of all of the latest developments and breakthroughs. Another large area of research that isn’t directly considered renewable energy research, but that directly impacts the industry, is the research of new and more efficient batteries. With some recent dire predictions of the world’s supply of lithium running low, especially as Elon Musk plans to dramatically increase production of electric cars, with his recently introduced affordable Tesla Model 3. Lithium is a main component of our most energy dense variety of battery, the lithium-polymer battery, and with lithium-sulfur batteries being the main candidate for replacing LiPo batteries as the next step in commercial battery production, a replacement for lithium is a big issue that needs researching.

 

Engineer

While the research is producing many breakthroughs in renewable energy, it’s the engineers that take these brilliant new solutions and develop commercially viable ways to use produce them. As many of the new breakthroughs feature exotic materials that are hard to work with and produce, the engineers of tomorrow have their work cut out for them as they work tirelessly to apply these ideas into making this world a better place.

 

Install and Maintenance

Once all the research and development is said and done, it’s the job of the installers to allow the general use of these products and to help ensure the implementation of these new ideas goes along smoothly, and stays on the pace needed to help to protect the environment as these new, better technologies replace the old, polluting ones. Once installed, it comes down to the men and women who maintain these sources of renewable energy to ensure the electricity keeps flowing and electric cars keep humming along. Many maintenance crews face new and unique challenges they won’t see anywhere else working in any other fields. These include making sure the giant blades on wind turbines keep on working properly, usually hundreds of feet above the ground, and ensuring that the ethanol used to run cars in a more eco-friendly manner continues to be properly refined and distributed.

The Natural Gas Fracking Jobs Bubble Burst and its Results

As horizontal drilling has become more commercially viable, and with the increased push towards making the United States energy independent, the production of natural gas has exploded in the United States during the past few years. Recently, however, the bad press surrounding the hydraulic fracturing process, as well as the recent drop in oil prices, have lead to the popping of the fracking bubble.

While this may not seem important in regards to the energy jobs field as a whole, the results could be dramatic. This is a result of a compound of several factors all at once. First of all is the obvious one; as the bubble pops, all the lucrative new jobs that were created will disappear. This leads to a second devastating impact that can easily be overlooked; the recent surge in popularity in college degrees related to the field of hydraulic fracturing, such as petroleum engineering, will enter a job market that was a lucrative field hiring anyone who was even remotely qualified to one where the opportunities are sparse, and the wages are nowhere near as lucrative as before.

The shale oil deposits are quickly depleted, so as the easily accessible gas pockets are removed, new wells must be drilled at an increasing rate to maintain the same amount of natural gas being extracted. By 2020, the major reserves will be largely depleted, and by 2040 will be well below the amount predicted by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). This is compounded by the fact that half of the natural gas producers that were predicted by the EIA. This will accelerate the popping of the natural gas bubble as investors notice the major discrepancies that will appear between the overly optimistic predictions and the actually results, and will lose faith in the industry. This failure to meet the predictions will likely result in at least a slowing of hiring by the oil companies, if not outright layoffs, depending on the severity of the under performance and how much natural gas is actually extracted.

The disillusionment of investors will result in the investors selling their shares, which will cause the stock prices to drop. As this occurs, the oil companies will likely have further layoffs as they try to cut their losses. This will also cause an increase in the price of oil, which has many wider economic impacts that are outside the scope of this article.

Given all the factors, we can see that the natural gas industry is already in a decline, and, barring any major discoveries of extremely large natural gas reserves, is likely on it’s way to popping, with devastating effects on both the natural gas and energy job markets, as well as possibly the US economy in general, depending on how much of an impact the natural gas has had on the general oil prices when the bubble pops.

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