Does Renewable Energy Require More Space?

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Indonesia is among the world’s fastest growing countries in terms of energy consumption, fuelled by robust economic development, increasing urbanisation and steady population growth. Fossil fuels are overloading the air with greenhouse gases, which are having an alarmingly damaging effect on our planet. We need to do all we can to cut down the effects of global warming. It is time to switch to a cleaner, more sustainable and recyclable source, renewable energy (RE).

There are so many challenges for RE development in Indonesia, such as the policy uncertainty, market barriers, financing barriers and low renewables manufacturing capacity have been contributing to the slow-moving development of renewables in Indonesia. Not to forget to mention, some people still think that renewable energy requires more space compared to fossil fuels.

Renewable energy has generally lower power densities than other non-renewable sources. Power density is the average electrical power that one horizontal square meter of infrastructure produces. So, we can conclude that RE typically requires more surface area to produce an equivalent amount of power as a non-RE system. Does all new RE technologies require a lot of space? The answer is no. Wind power generation is one example of renewable energy that doesn’t take up too much space. The installation of pinwheel pillars as a power plant can be installed on existing open agricultural lands so that land use can be more efficient as land, agriculture purposes and power generation. Same for hydroelectric power. Plus, wind farms can be installed at sea. Solar panels work wonderfully on rooftops. Wind turbines can be incorporated into pastureland. 

Meanwhile, the problem of solar cells that take up too much space can be overcome by choosing the right land to build the solar power plant, for example, a solar cell complex might be built in a remote area with less or almost zero population. Therefore, the installation of solar cells can be considered effective as an effort in utilizing unused land. However, while other renewable energy might take up more space, the space will be less polluted and can be developed for multiple uses, such as farming around the base of wind turbines. It is proven to effectively produce greener energy.


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