As the global population looks to rise to 10 billion people by 2050, the demand for sustainable engineering practices has never been higher. The engineers of tomorrow will play a vital role in creating an environment that can sustain our world of the future and that starts by incorporating sustainable practices and renewable technologies today. Here are just some of the ways engineering is creating solutions today to address environmental challenges and propel our world into the future.
Sustainability in engineering is based on the paradigm of considering the long term impact of projects today on the environment and society of tomorrow. This means using resources efficiently, minimizing waste, reducing the carbon footprint, and creating a healthier living environment.
These practices use life-cycle thinking in all their engineering activities which help to predict the potential environmental impacts of projects and ensures that all materials, inputs and outputs are as safe and benign as possible. This includes minimizing the depletion of natural resources and looking to prevent waste wherever possible. This is a more holistic mindset towards engineering, considering both the present project as well as the future impacts to the environment. By making all of these considerations, engineers can reduce environmental impact at every stage and level of a project.
An obvious aspect of green engineering is using renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and water power. By integrating these energy sources at every stage of the project, it reduces the carbon footprint overall. With a transition away from fossil fuels more important than ever before, establishing reliable sources of renewable energy with a high output will be critical for engineering in the future. Using renewable energy now sets the stage for the future to build on this and reduce environmental impact even more. In addition, incorporating sustainable materials and processes in engineering design can also reduce the impact on the environment.
Coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic, one area of engineering that spiked in popularity was renewable energy. People all across the globe began to incorporate these technologies into their daily lives as we all processed the chaos of 2020. Now that renewable energy has become the new normal, it is more important than ever for engineers to continue this culture shift and create more renewable energy resources for our society of tomorrow.
Here are just a few engineering projects to keep an eye on throughout the rest of 2023 that will satisfy the needs of energy consumers all over Europe and the rest of the world.
1: Solaris’ Proteus
This project is taking solar energy to a whole new level. Normally, solar power has a limit based on the lack of ability to track the angle of the sun. To correct this, SolarisFloat, a Portuguese renewable energy company, plans to develop solar farms across Europe that can track the sun’s movement. This sun tracking feature will allow the solar panels to rotate, yielding a 40% increase in energy production compared to normal panels.
2: The EU’s REGACE Agrivoltaic Project
Often when solar panels are installed on rooftops of greenhouses or on farmland, they take space and sunlight away from plants and farming. This project, headed by the Israeli company Trisolar, is creating a solution to this. New solar panels are being developed that can control the amount of sunlight that passes through to plants below as well as increase the amount of solar power absorbed to be used as renewable energy.
3: Repsol’s Delta II Wind Project
Repsol, a Spanish renewable energy company, began this project in 2021 and it is expected to be completed and operational by 2023. This comprises six wind farms and when fully running, it will have the capacity to supply nearly 800,000 homes across Spain with renewable energy. What’s more, this project is estimated to prevent the emission of over 2.6 million tons of CO2 annually.
This is just a few of the ways that engineers are creating more renewable energy sources for the world of tomorrow. Transitioning to these energy sources as a global movement will stabilize the energy needs of the future as well as preserve our environment in the process.