Reading Comprehension – In a low-carbon world, renewable energy technologies


Slot – 1 – RC



In a low-carbon world, renewable energy technologies are hot business. For investors looking to redirect funds, wind turbines and solar panels, among other technologies, seem a straightforward choice. But renewables need to be further scrutinized before being championed as forging a path toward a low-carbon future. Both the direct and indirect impacts of renewable energy must be examined to ensure that a climate-smart future does not intensify social and environmental harm. As renewable energy production requires land, water, and labor, among other inputs, it imposes costs on people and the environment. Hydropower projects, for instance, have led to community dispossession and exclusion . . .
Renewable energy supply chains are also intertwined with mining, and their technologies contribute to growing levels of electronic waste . . .
Furthermore, although renewable energy can be produced and distributed through small-scale, local systems, such an approach might not generate the high returns on investment needed to attract capital.
Although an emerging sector, renewables are enmeshed in long-standing resource extraction through their dependence on minerals and metals . . .
Scholars document the negative consequences of mining . . . even for mining operations that commit to socially responsible practices[:] “many of the world’s largest reservoirs of minerals like cobalt, copper, lithium, [and] rare earth minerals”—the ones needed for renewable technologies—“are found in fragile states and under communities of marginalized peoples in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.” Since the demand for metals and minerals will increase substantially in a renewable-powered future . . . this intensification could exacerbate the existing consequences of extractive activities.

Among the connections between climate change and waste, O’Neill . . . highlights that “devices developed to reduce our carbon footprint, such as lithium batteries for hybrid and electric cars or solar panels[,] become potentially dangerous electronic waste at the end of their productive life.” The disposal of toxic waste has long perpetuated social injustice through the flows of waste to the Global South and to marginalized communities in the Global North . . .

While renewable energy is a more recent addition to financial portfolios, investments in the sector must be considered in light of our understanding of capital accumulation. As agricultural finance reveals, the concentration of control of corporate activity facilitates profit generation. For some climate activists, the promise of renewables rests on their ability not only to reduce emissions but also to provide distributed, democratized access to energy . . . But Burke and Stephens . . . caution that “renewable energy systems offer a possibility but not a certainty for more democratic energy futures.” Small-scale, distributed forms of energy are only highly profitable to institutional investors if control is consolidated somewhere in the financial chain. Renewable energy can be produced at the household or neighborhood level. However, such small-scale, localized production is unlikely to generate high returns for investors. For financial growth to be sustained and expanded by the renewable sector, production and trade in renewable energy technologies will need to be highly concentrated, and large asset management firms will likely drive those developments.

Q.1 Which one of the following statements best captures the main argument of the last paragraph of the passage?
  1. The development of the renewable energy sector is a double-edged sword.
  2. Most forms of renewable energy are not profitable investments for institutional investors
  3. Renewable energy produced at the household or neighbourhood level is more efficient than mass-produced forms of energy
  4. Renewable energy systems are not democratic unless they are corporate-controlled
Answer: 1

Q.2 Based on the passage, we can infer that the author would be most supportive of which one of the following practices?
  1. The localised, small-scale development of renewable energy systems
  2. Encouragement for the development of more environment-friendly carbon-based fuels.
  3. The study of the coexistence of marginalised people with their environments
  4. More stringent global policies and regulations to ensure a more just system of toxic waste disposal.
Answer: 4

Q.3 All of the following statements, if true, could be seen as supporting the arguments in the passage, EXCEPT?
  1. The example of agricultural finance helps us to see how to concentrate corporate activity in the renewable energy sector.
  2. Marginalised people in Africa, Asia and Latin America have often been the main sufferers of corporate mineral extraction projects.
  3. One reason for the perpetuation of social injustice lies in the problem of the disposal of toxic waste.
  4. The possible negative impacts of renewable energy need to be studied before it can be offered as a financial investment opportunity.
Answer: 4

Q.4 Which one of the following statements, if false, could be seen as best supporting the arguments in the passage?
  1. Renewable energy systems are not as profitable as non-renewable energy systems.
  2. The production and distribution of renewable energy through small-scale, local systems is not economically sustainable.
  3. Renewable energy systems have little or no environmental impact
  4. Renewable energy systems are as expensive as non-renewable energy systems.
Answer: 3

Q.5 Which one of the following statements, if true, could be an accurate inference from the first paragraph of the passage?
  1. The author has reservations about the consequences of renewable energy systems.
  2. The author’s only reservation is about the profitability of renewable energy systems
  3. The author does not think renewable energy systems can be as efficient as nonrenewable energy systems.
  4. The author has reservations about the consequences of non-renewable energy systems.
Answer: 1

Solutions:
Q.1 The last paragraph is about the difficulties in producing renewable energy on a large scale. While there is no doubt that renewable energy is a good low carbon alternative to the polluting conventional forms of energy, they may not allow for a more democratic access to energy. The second (less critical point) is that localized renewable energy for households or neighbourhoods is not financially feasible at present. Therefore, although renewable energy is a great non-polluting source of energy, every one may not have access to it. Thus, the development of the renewable energy sector is a double-edged sword. This explanation is in conformity with option 1.
Option 2 is true but is not the main argument of the last paragraph. It is a subsidiary argument.
Options 3 and 4 cannot be deduced from the passage.
Hence, the correct answer is option 1.

Q.2 According to the author, “The disposal of toxic waste has long perpetuated social injustice through the flows of waste to the Global South and to marginalized communities in the Global North. ..” The author would thus be most supportive of more stringent global policies and regulations to ensure a more just system of toxic waste disposal. Thus, option 4 is the correct answer.
The author is of the opinion that localised, small-scale developments of renewable energy systems are currently not financially feasible. Eliminate option 1.
Options 2 and 3 have not been mentioned in the passage at all.
Hence, the correct answer is option 4.

Q.3 Option 1 is supported by the passage. Refer to the following extract, “As agricultural finance reveals, the concentration of control of corporate activity facilitates profit generation.” Similar would surely be the case for renewal energy.

Option 2 is supported by the passage. Refer to the following extract, “—‘are found in fragile states and under communities of marginalized peoples in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.”Since the demand for metals and minerals will increase substantially in a renewable-powered future . . . this intensification could exacerbate the existing consequences of extractive activities.’”

Option 3, too, is supported by the passage. Refer to the following extract, “The disposal of toxic waste has long perpetuated social injustice through the flows of waste to the Global South and to marginalized communities in the Global North. ..”

Option 4 is not supported by the passage. Refer to the relevant extract, “But renewables need to be further scrutinized before being championed as forging a path toward a low-carbon future. Both the direct and indirect impacts of renewable energy must be examined to ensure that a climate-smart future does not intensify social and environmental harm.” This implies that all the impacts (direct and indirect) of renewable energy should be examined and not just the possible negative impacts of renewable energy.
Hence, the correct answer is option 4.

Q.4 Nothing has been mentioned in the passage about the profitability of renewable energy systems vis-à-vis non-renewable energy systems. Eliminate option 1.

Option 2 is contradicted by the following extract from the passage, “Small-scale, distributed forms of energy are only highly profitable to institutional investors if control is consolidated somewhere in the financial chain.” Eliminate option 2.

Option 3 is a false statement as renewable energy systems do have some environmental impact but it supports the main argument of the passage, which is that renewable energy systems are highly desirable since they are low-carbon emission systems as compared to non-renewable energy systems.

The passage has not mentioned or compared costs between renewable energy systems and non-renewable energy systems. Eliminate option 4. Hence, the correct answer is option 3.

Q.5 The author states that although in the low-carbon world, renewable energy sources are in hot demand among investors they need to be further scrutinized before being championed as forging a path toward a low-carbon future. Both the direct and indirect impacts of renewable energy must be examined to ensure that a climate-smart future does not intensify social and environmental harm. Moreover he adds, “Hydropower projects, for instance, have led to community dispossession and exclusion . . . Renewable energy supply chains are also intertwined with mining, and their technologies contribute to growing levels of electronic waste.” Therefore, he would like this energy system to be examined for its social and environmental impacts. He is also aware that renewable energy systems may lead to community dispossession and growing levels of electronic waste. This means he has reservations about the consequences of renewable energy systems. He is not a blind adherent of this type of energy system. This is in conformity with option 1.

Reservation about the profitability relates only to small scale renewable energy systems. He has mentioned that overall renewable energy systems are in great demand from financial investors. Eliminate option 2.

Nothing has been stated in the first paragraph about the efficiency of renewable energy systems vis-à-vis non-renewable energy systems. Eliminate option 3.

The author does not mention the ill-effects of non-renewable energy systems at all in the first paragraph. Eliminate option 4. Hence, the correct answer is option 1.


Online Coaching Course for CAT 2021 + Test Series

a) 1000+ Videos covering entire CAT syllabus
b) 2 Live Classes (online) every week for doubt clarification
c) Study Material & PDFs for practice and understanding
d) 10 Mock Tests in the latest pattern
e) Previous Year Questions solved on video