When looking at energy in terms of visibility, we are never able to physically see the entirety of harm that energy causes when being produced. With the use of centralised energy sources, we have become detached to the reality of where our energy comes from. The immediacy and accessibility of electricity being a flick of a switch away, allows us to be complacent to the source, location and production of the energy we use.
Most centralised energy sources, such as nuclear power plants, coal mining and oil extraction sites are controlled and built away from populated areas. As well as not being hidden from the production process, the waste products of these processes are also concealed from us. Take nuclear power plants for example, nuclear and toxic waste is produced in masses throughout the creation of electricity. Nuclear waste stored in specialised containers and buried underground until it is no longer radioactive, (which is predicted to take thousands of years), creating anxieties of safety, additionally being unsustainable and inadequate for the long term. The only time we hear about nuclear waste is when it is not disposed of safely and affects humans or human activity.
Energy can also be attached to the micro or the macro, being dependant on whether the energy source is centralised or decentralised. Decentralised energy lends itself to an individualised or community based ownership of energy, such as having solar panels on your own roofs, which is then used to power your own house. In comparison, coal mining as a type of centralised energy, links to the macro through its vast usage around the world. Coal mining has also resulted in bringing communities together through economic purposes, particularly seen in the Industrial evolution in the 18th century.
In the present day, coal is a dying industry in the UK, as it is recognised as an energy source nearing depletion. As a result of this, literature and art involving coal is declining, and being replaced with ‘newer’ energy forms such as solar power. However, just because coal within literature and art is dying art form in the UK, it may continue in other places across the world where it is still a prominent energy resource. This concept relates to the ways in which different models of society are attached to different types of energy consumption. A variation of energy sources are emerging at different time periods within different cultures, due to development rates and technological advances. Within this in mind,’Western’ countries should be heavily invested in renewable energy, departing from fossil fuels.
The concept of transition is very significant at the moment, in terms of switching from ‘dirty energy’, e.g fossil fuels and nuclear, to ‘clean’, renewable energy. However, at this point in time, renewable energy isn’t completely renewable, because we are using plastic and metal and oil to construct solar panels and wind turbines, which are then transported across the country. This causes a ‘payback’ time for energy sources, such as wind turbines, causing debate over their effectiveness. In my opinion, when we can create renewable energy with renewable energy, our planet will truly be sustainable, (and hopefully saved).