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Rethinking the Environmental Impacts of Renewable Energy : Mitigation and Management (Paperback)
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Renewable energy is important as a substitute for finite fossil fuels and inflexible nuclear power and could conceivably power the world. However, this is challenging as currently the world is 80% dependent on fossil fuels, and renewable sources produce only about 15% of total energy. Conversion technologies for use with many of the eight different primary sources of renewable energy are only just emerging as viable technologies. While renewable energy sources will not run out, and their use involves little or no release of carbon dioxide or ionising wastes, they do have local environmental impacts of their own. These impacts can constrain the available resource. Moreover renewable energy powers the natural world, and so if we are to intercept significant quantities of energy from these natural flows, then we will need to know what we are doing. How much energy can we extract before impacts become significant? What factors determine the impact? How can we reduce the impacts? This book attempts to answer these questions. The nature of environmental impacts from renewable sources is analysed. A novel method of assessing impacts is explored based on a set of parameters centred on how diffuse or concentrated the energy flow is. What this means in practice for land use and the functions of energy in the natural world is investigated. The approach that is developed will inform engineers, designers, policy makers and planners as well as researchers in the area. Although the main focus in the analysis section is on hydroelectric power, the approach is applied to all of the renewable sources.