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Alternative energy sources for the future


What will be the sources of “green” energy used in the decades to come? Some are already known and (a little) used, such as solar and wind energy. Others are still poorly controlled, such as wave energy or tidal energy. Some remain in the experimental state and are unknown to the general public, such as bioluminescence. The challenge of sustainable development, mediated by the COP 21, however requires to accelerate the movement, and to put an end to fossil fuels.

From fossil fuels to "green" energies

“Non-renewable” or fossil energies are still by far the most consumed in the world. According to CNRS data, 77% of the energy resources consumed by humanity come from oil (32%), coal (26%) and gas (19%). These fossil derivatives pose a double problem. By definition non-renewable, their extraction is inevitably doomed to dry up, even if daily discoveries push this deadline even further.

The second problem is much more topical: fossil fuels are directly involved in the greenhouse effect, itself partly or totally responsible for current global warming. And to hope to achieve the bold objective set by COP21 - to limit this warming to 1.5 degrees in 2050, it would be better to switch to alternative energies now.

Well-controlled “green” energies are still relatively underused in France, despite strong progress in recent years. Wind energy, which has tremendous potential on land and at sea, still provides only 3.1% of French electricity production. The share of solar energy (photovoltaic sector) was 1.1% in 2014. The national policy for the development of renewable energies in France has, however, set the objective of reaching 23% of consumption in 2020. electricity from renewable energies.

From marine energies to the bioluminescence of living organisms

Among the alternative energy sources potentially abundantly available in France are wave energy and tidal energy. The idea of ​​using the force of the waves is not new, since it was invented at the beginning of the 19th century by the French, but subsequently developed in the United Kingdom. Abandoned by the intensive use of carbon energies, the concept has resurfaced since the early 2000s with the need to preserve the environment. Still poorly controlled and only at the stage of study, wave energy nevertheless represents a strong potential, since 90% of this force can be transformed into mechanical energy.

Still in the ocean, tidal energy captures the force of the tides. Here too, the idea dates back to Antiquity, even if the conversion of this force into electricity dates back to 1966 with a first factory in Brittany. This energy capture is a little more developed than the first, the tides being easily predictable in the long term, unlike the power of the waves. Here again, the French potential for this energy is considerable, with a length of the Atlantic coast of more than 4,000 kilometers.

Another striking idea is bioluminescence, denoting the conversion of chemical energy into light energy by living things - especially fireflies and jellyfish. A French start-up, Glowee, has embarked on the daring project of using this totally natural energy to replace electricity in public places: “ We started from the observation that urban lighting was the number one expense. of municipalities. This is why we wanted to imagine a system capable of lighting the city without consuming electricity ”.

The idea is therefore to collect a bioluminescence-producing biosystem and provide it with glucose, in order to provide light at night. As a result, there is no more need for electricity to produce light, reduced light pollution and very low CO2 emissions. Still in its infancy, Glowee's project encountered high technological production costs, even though airports and road networks had already shown interest. Fundraising in 2016 should help advance this revolutionary idea.

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