Written By: Kyoko Downey
As fossil fuels being to dwindle the people of the world are in a constant race to seek renewable energy to support the future. Costa Rica is a prominent example of this tremendous feat, running for 299 days in two years on hydropower, wind, geothermal, and solar energy, without the burning of any fossil fuels. With its early investments in discovering new means of acquiring energy, the country has successfully created a model for other cities and may quite possibly, as they have acknowledged, become entirely, environmentally sustainable. Their future plans and ventures in this field demonstrate their dedication to the cause; spending close to 100 million dollars in three 50 MW geothermal plants and revealing a 305.5 MW hydroelectric plant predicted to power over half of a million homes.
This proposes the question, “What can we do here?”
It’s obvious driving by our school the prominent solar panels in the parking lot, but aside such energy sources, few students could contribute new forms of renewable energy that we could implement into the communities of Newport Beach and Costa Mesa. As sophomore Cielo Cuenca admits “there isn’t a lot that can feasibly be done at our school with the budget we have.” It is true that solar panels are among the most expensive forms of renewable energy but really, for southern California are the only devices that pay back those expenses in a reasonable time frame, not relying on our unpredictable wind patterns and rainfall like other forms of renewable energy depend on. However, this could quite change in the coming years, as scientists are beginning to develop solar panels that do not rely on the costly photovoltaic cells they do today, but rather on magnetic fields, drastically cutting down on material costs.
With every interview, a steady trend became clear, nobody saw or noted the possibility of such switches to environmental sustainability in the near future, all for multiple reasons. Tenth grader Maddy Wilkens contributed it to the fact it “depends on how much as a society we want it,” focusing on big fossil fuel companies’ corporate greed and the amount of initiative by the people and coming generations to innovate to solve these issues. Meanwhile, fellow sophomore, Keeley Wandrocke states that “we have such a dependency on fossil fuels as of today that such an extreme change in our ways would be cumbersome and time consuming.”
But perhaps our students are thinking too obviously of the big, well known energy sources, or rather, they don’t know that smaller ones exist. HERO products, founded in Newport Beach, focus and advertise different systems that can be put into the home from new exterior windows to even a simple window film that “save[s] energy by limiting both the amount of solar radiation passing through and the amount of internal heat escaping” as the site discloses.
Which goes to show, a little goes a long way, and in the case of renewable energy, it’s a small step in a long journey to the future.