5 Energy Transition Examples Explained

Energy transition examples are; fossil fuel/solar, coal/natural gas, ICE/electric motor, lead acid/lithium ion, and petroleum/liquid hydrogen.

This article discusses energy transition examples, as follows;



1). Fossil Fuel to Solar (as one of the Energy Transition Examples)

Fossil fuel is one of the most common energy sources used for electricity generation and transport, among other purposes [1].

The transition from fossil fuels to solar energy is an essential measure for achieving sustainable development goals in the energy sector.

Solar energy can be harnessed using solar panels that are made up of photovoltaic cells that may be silicon-based or organic solar cells [8].

The conversion of solar energy to electricity by these panels can be upscaled by establishing large solar power plants. It is cheaper and simpler than the use of turbines, nuclear power plants or electric generators, and helps to reduce the risk of climate change, air quality reduction, and other forms of environmental degradation.

Fossil fuel to solar power transition can also facilitate economic sustainability by creating diverse jobs in solar technology, eliminating carbon tax and environmental remediation costs, and supporting sustainable agriculture and circular economy.

Developing countries like Libya have implemented the fossil fuel to solar transition, especially for relatively-minor applications like street lighting [5].

The main challenge associated with this transition arises from the practical limitations of solar technology, including low energy efficiency and performance relative to fossil fuel. This challenge is being addressed with innovative changes in solar systems.

Other renewable energy sources are also viable alternatives to fossil fuels, including geothermal, wind and wave power.

Energy Transition Examples: Fossil Fuel to Solar (Credit: CSIRO 2014 .CC BY 3.0.)
Energy Transition Examples: Fossil Fuel to Solar (Credit: CSIRO 2014 .CC BY 3.0.)


2). Coal to Natural Gas

The transition from coal as a primary energy source, to natural gas, is a relatively recent shift, and has bee most effective in developed regions such as the United States [6].

Although natural gas is also a fossil fuel, it produces less carbon emissions than coal [3].

Natural gas facilities are simpler and operate with a higher energy efficiency than coal-fired power plants.

The coal-to-natural gas transition is aligned with the goal of environmental sustainability, as it signifies a reduction of the degree and severity of environmental degradation caused by electricity generation and other energy applications.

Energy recovery through cogeneration, and other measures to minimize energy waste, are also more effective with natural gas systems than with coal.

These attributes make natural gas a more compatible energy source, with upcoming renewable energy sources like solar and wind. By coupling natural gas consumption with carbon capture and storage technology, we can mitigate environmental impacts like greenhouse emission, while reducing the cost of carbon tax and environmental remediation.


3). Combustion Engine to Electric Motor (as one of the Energy Transition Examples)

The shift from combustion engine (ICE) to electric motor, represents an important aspect of modern energy transition in the automobile sector. It signifies the adoption of electric vehicles as a viable alternative to petroleum-based vehicles.

In order for a conventional gasoline vehicle to run on electricity, its combustion engine must be replaced by an electric motor, which draws stored electric power from a battery [2]. Conduits for fluid passage are also largely replaced by wires for charge flow in electric vehicles.

The electric vehicle industry is a growing one, with rapid advancement in terms of public interest, technological innovation, and productive output.

Some challenges have limited the rate of adoption of electric vehicles. These include cost, risk of fire outbreak during operation, and range anxiety arising from the risk of battery drainage and lack of nearby recharge stations.

As a result of such drawbacks, significant improvements are required before electric vehicles can become the norm, in the automobile sector. Also, electric vehicles depend on renewable energy to become fully sustainable and environment-friendly, since the power used to recharge EV batteries is sometimes generated from non-renewable sources.

Hybrid vehicles are also a product of the automobile energy transition. These vehicles depend on a wide range of energy sources that include stored electricity, gasoline, biofuel, and liquid hydrogen.


4). Lead Acid to Lithium Ion Battery

Energy transition includes energy sources, and sinks or storage systems, since the storage of energy is equally important, as the production of energy.

Lithium ion batteries have been widely used to replace lead acid batteries for residential, industrial and automobile applications. They represent one of the best options for solar batteries, and are used in electric vehicles and in some energy management systems.

The advantages of lithium ion batteries over lead acid include higher efficiency, capacity, stability and lifespan. Lead acid batteries also have better design characteristics and flexibility than lead acid batteries, making it possible to integrate them into various systems.

Energy Transition Examples: Lead Acid to Lithium Ion Battery (Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory 2017 .CC BY 2.0.)
Energy Transition Examples: Lead Acid to Lithium Ion Battery (Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory 2017 .CC BY 2.0.)


5). Petroleum to Liquid Hydrogen (as one of the Energy Transition Examples)

Liquid hydrogen is a viable alternative to fossil fuels, due to factors such as its high energy density and low carbon emission.

The transition from petroleum to liquid hydrogen has been facilitated by applications like fuel cell operation, rocket propulsion and hybrid vehicular operation, which have revealed the positive attributes of liquid hydrogen.

Although it is abundant on Earth, hydrogen does not naturally occur in its native form, and must be isolated from hydrogen-rich sources like petroleum, natural gas, and water [4] [7].

Because some of these are also carbon sources, the isolation of hydrogen can lead to greenhouse emissions and unfavorable environmental impacts. These issues among others must be addressed before liquid hydrogen becomes a fully reliable energy source.



Energy transition examples are;

1. Fossil Fuel to Solar

2. Coal to Natural Gas

3. Combustion Engine to Electric Motor

4. Lead Acid to Lithium Ion Battery

5. Petroleum to Liquid Hydrogen



1). Chukwu, P. U.; Haruna, I.; Ojosu, J.; Olayande; J. S. (2015). “Energy Consumption in Transport Sector in Nigeria: Current Situation and Ways Forward.” Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/286928670_Energy_Consumption_in_Transport_Sector_in_Nigeria_Current_Situation_and_Ways_Forward. (Accessed 4 October 2022).

2). Eydgahi, A.; Long, E. L. (2011). “Converting an Internal Combustion Engine Vehicle to an Electric Vehicle.” Proceedings of ASEE Annual Conference, Vancouver, Canada. Available at: https://doi.org/10.18260/1-2–17662. (Accessed 4 October 2022).

3). Hayhoe, K.; Kheshgi, H. S.; Jain, A.; Wuebbles, D. J. (2002). “Substitution of Natural Gas for Coal: Climatic Effects of Utility Sector Emissions.” Climatic Change 54(1):107-139. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1015737505552. (Accessed 4 October 2022).

4). Idriss, H. (2020). “Hydrogen production from water: past and present.” Current Opinion in Chemical Engineering 29:74-82. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.coche.2020.05.009. (Accessed 4 October 2022).

5). Khalil, A.; Rajab, Z.; Amhammed, M.; Asheibi, A. (2017). “The Benefits of the Transition from Fossil Fuel to Solar Energy in Libya: A Street Lighting System Case Study.” Applied Solar Energy 53(2):1-14. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3103/S0003701X17020086. (Accessed 2 October 2022).

6). O’Connor, P.; Cleveland, C. J. (2014). “U.S. Energy Transitions 1780-2010.” Energies 7(12):7955-7993. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/en7127955. (Accessed 4 October 2022). Sustainable Utilization of Natural Resources (pp.81-120).

7). Shah, M.; Mondal, P.; Nayak, A. K. (2017). “Hydrogen from Natural Gas.” Available at: Available at: https://doi.org/10.1201/9781315153292-5. (Accessed 4 October 2022).

8). Wöhrle, D.; Meissner, D. (1991). “Organic Solar Cells.” Advanced Materials 3(3). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1002/adma.19910030303. (Accessed 4 October 2022).

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