Renewable energy has become more attractive and cost-effective. Find out why renewable energy is good for the future of our environment and global economy, what it can do to help you achieve your sustainability goals.
Countries across the world are making pledges to achieve net-zero carbon emissions. State and local governments are bringing in regulations to meet their carbon emission targets. Big companies are promising to go carbon neutral.
“Save the Environment” seems to be the mantra on everyone’s lips.
As an individual, you are in an advantageous position. As the idiom goes, you can have the cake and eat it too!
Here is your chance to do your bit for the environment and derive benefits for the same. Federal, state, and local governments are offering lucrative benefits to individuals for embracing renewable technologies. Manufacturers are offering enticing discounts to further sweeten the deal.
If you are yet to jump into the renewable energy bandwagon and want some more convincing as to why renewable energy is good for the environment, read on.
This article explains the importance of renewable energy and why you should switch to renewable energy.
What is renewable energy?
Energy sources can be classified as renewable and non-renewable based on their ability to replace and replenish. An energy source that is not depleted on use is called a renewable energy source. The most prominent examples are solar energy and wind energy.
For example, when you use solar panels to capture the sun’s energy to generate electricity, you are not depleting the sunlight in any manner. The Sun will continue to shine with the same intensity. You are merely using some of what is reaching you.
The same is the case with the wind. You harness the power of the wind to turn the turbine and produce electricity but you are not exhausting the supply of the wind. The wind will continue to blow.
This is in stark contrast with non-renewable energy resources like fossil fuels. When you use coal to generate electricity in thermal power plants, you are using up that much coal.
As the coal deposits are limited and it takes millions of years and special conditions for the formation of coal, you have no reasonable hope of replenishing the coal supply in the near or far future.
Why is clean energy important?
Clean energy is not the same as renewable energy. While renewable translates to the ability to replenish, clean energy is all about not harming the environment. When you use an energy source to generate energy, there are numerous byproducts, the most notable being greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide and methane. These are known to be harmful to the environment, leading to global warming and climate change.
Carbon neutrality or net-zero carbon emissions refer to the state when the man-made greenhouse gas emissions are counterbalanced by the removal of the same in equal measure by the process of carbon removal.
The natural carbon removal technique is to save forest cover and add more to it. Several emerging technologies also offer the same result. Some of the notable ones are Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), Direct Air Capture with Storage (DACS), and Frontier Technologies. These are still in the development stage and at present not ready for deployment on a large scale. The challenge is to bring down the cost of these technologies.
How does renewable energy help the environment and the economy?
The steady rise in global mean temperature has led to severe weather conditions and rising sea levels across the world. The incidents are becoming more extreme and frequent in recent years. Moreover, we have already been warned that we are about to run out of fossil fuels in a few decades. All this points to a single solution – renewable and clean energy.
Environmental and economic benefits of using renewable energy include:
1. It brings down greenhouse gas emissions
Burning fossil fuels release large quantities of greenhouse gasses and this is resulting in global warming and climate change. The devastating aftereffects of climate change are becoming more and more pronounced in recent years with extreme weather conditions worldwide.
Switching to renewable energy doesn’t completely eliminate these harmful emissions but brings them down considerably. Renewable energy sources like solar and wind produce no carbon emissions but their manufacture and transport do create carbon footprints.
2. It offers better public health
Besides the emission of greenhouse gasses, burning fossil fuels are also associated with high levels of air, water, and land pollution. All these pollutants have a direct consequence on the health of the people living in the area. Breathing problems, cancer, heart attack, neurological issues, and premature death are some of the health issues linked to it. This results in additional expenditure for the economy.
Renewable energy sources are less polluting than fossil fuels, especially solar and wind energies. Though biomass and geothermal also are associated with some pollution, it is much lower compared to fossil fuels. Less pollution translates to better health and less expenditure on health for the economy.
3. It is abundant and inexhaustible
This is one of the main draws of renewable energy. Fossil fuels, at the present rate of use, are expected to last us for a few more decades. From the time we woke up to this fact, we have been searching for alternative sources of energy.
We have been depending on the sun and wind for our energy needs from the early days. However, the flexibility, reliability, and various other aspects made them less lucrative than fossil fuels. Our search for alternatives has led to improvising and improving the technologies to make them more efficient, cheaper, and easier to adopt. In the last decade, the progress we made has been monumental.
This has made renewable energy sources within our reach. As they get replenished easily, renewables score a big victory over fossil fuels.
4. It offers less variation in energy rates
One of the most distressing aspects of grid energy from fossil fuels is the ever-increasing energy rates. This can wreak havoc on most household budgets. Switching to renewable energy like solar can help you overcome this problem. Though the initial installation is heavy on investment, running it is cheaper and the expenses remain steady.
5. It is more reliable and resilient
Energy generation from fossil fuels can get interrupted due to severe weather conditions. Availability of water is essential for fossil fuels and droughts can affect electricity generation. But renewable energy sources are less likely to get affected as they are spread out over a larger area.
6. It offers a chance to go off-grid
Whether you are staying in a remote location or you don’t want to rely on grid energy, with renewable energy you have the choice to generate electricity for your own needs. If self-reliance is what you are searching for, look no further. Renewable energy is the answer to your prayers.
7. It offers more employment opportunities
Electricity generation from fossil fuels is a highly mechanized process that requires less manual labor. On the other hand, the rising popularity of renewable energy has triggered a new set of job opportunities.
Be it manufacturing of the equipment such as solar panels, wind turbines, and a host of associated gadgets, their installation or maintenance, the renewable energy sector offers more jobs per unit of electricity generated than the same for fossil fuels.
8. It makes us less dependent on imported fuels
Major fossil fuel deposits are present in a few regions worldwide. This means the rest of the world has to depend on imports to meet their energy needs. Besides being a big drain on foreign reserves, importing fossil fuels also faces hurdles like diplomatic relationships and problems posed by oil cartels.
9. It offers better energy security
Geopolitical uncertainties and polarization of oil-producing countries have created apprehensions about energy security for many countries. Being forced to rely on oil imports, most countries are searching for alternative local energy sources. Renewable energy offers them a good choice.
10. It is ideal for community projects
In many parts of the world, local communities are taking up the responsibility of power generation in recent times. While fossil fuel-based power generation is out of bounds for them, renewable energy works perfectly well for this setup.
The advantages of renewable energy are quite evident – cleaner air, lower emissions, cheaper, reliable, and inexhaustible. Its clean energy benefits alone should be enough to help us make up our minds.
There is no doubt that renewable energy is here to stay and make our lives better in the process.
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