In the U.S., there is an increasing amount of interest in renewable energy. In 2018, investment in renewable energy projects reached a record high of $16.9 billion, and the sector now employs over 600,000 people worldwide. The global market size for solar technology is expected to grow from $26 billion in 2018 to $52 billion by 2023.
Despite the growing popularity of renewable energy, questions remain about whether or not it can provide adequate power to meet demands. This is largely due to the fluctuating nature of renewable energy sources, such as the sun and wind. Because these resources are so important to our wellbeing, it’s critical that we explore the potential downsides to relying solely on renewable energy.
In this article, we’ll discuss the potential downsides to getting by on solar and wind energy, and how you can still enjoy the many benefits of renewable energy without experiencing significant disruptions to your daily life.
Renewables: What Are They and How Do They Work?
Renewables are energy sources that are generated from natural resources such as the sun and wind. They’re distinct from fossil fuels, such as oil and coal, in that they don’t require a significant amount of energy to be extracted from the ground. As a result, they are considered to be more sustainable than fossil fuels.
The sun and wind can be considered to be “free” resources, which means they’re available for us to use at no cost. The only thing we need to pay for is the electricity that we generate from them. In the U.S., daylight savings time can also be considered a free resource, as it requires no energy to implement and it provides us with additional hours of sunlight during the day. As a result, many people use the extra hour of sunlight to their advantage, extending the hours of daylight at this time of year and allowing them to do more outdoor activities.
Because there is no cost associated with generating solar energy, it is one of the most popular renewable energy sources among consumers. In the U.S., about 30% of electricity comes from solar power sources. However, because they are not constant, we need to account for the variability of the sun and the weather in order to ensure there is enough energy to meet our demands. This will be discussed in more detail below.
Fluctuating Nature Of Renewables
One of the significant disadvantages of getting by on renewable energy is the fact that these resources are constantly fluctuating. The sun doesn’t always shine, and when it does, it can shine with more or less intensity than usual. This results in large fluctuations in the amount of energy that we get from the sun.
Wind energy is similarly affected by the weather. Wind often behaves differently at different times of the day and in different locations. These factors result in large fluctuations of wind velocity and, consequently, the power that we can generate from it. As a result, if we are relying on wind or solar power to meet our demands, it is essential that we have enough of these resources to cover our needs. Otherwise, we may experience significant disruptions to our daily lives.
Another disadvantage of relying on wind and solar power is the noise that they create. If we are to generate enough energy to cover our demands, we will inevitably need to put in place additional systems to filter out noise, such as windmills and solar panels. These additional systems introduce further complications and increase the noise that we are exposed to.
Depletion Of Non-renewable Resources
The extraction and processing of raw materials, such as coal and oil, to create electricity leads to the depletion of these materials, as well as additional pollutants that are created during this process. These resources will eventually run out, and when they do, there will be hell to pay. We need to find an alternative solution to generate the electricity that we need.
This brings us to our next point. If we are to get by without relying on fossil fuels, we will need to explore sustainable energy alternatives that can replace them. Ideally, we need to consider an energy source that can be replaced or depleted in a responsible manner.
The extraction and processing of fossil fuels to generate electricity leads to the disruption of normal daily life. Unpredictable blackouts and brownouts are a result of fluctuating energy supply, and they can cause serious damage to our wellbeing. For instance, a 2014 report from the World Bank found that poor power supply adversely affected children’s performance at school, reduced employees’ productivity, and led to increased health problems.
These are just some of the potential downsides to getting by on renewable energy. As we’ve established, these resources are not constant, and they can cause significant disruptions to our daily life. It is essential that we explore whether or not these disruptions are worth it.
The good news is that there are ways to get by on solar and wind energy without experiencing significant disruptions to your daily life. In fact, you may already be benefiting from some of these solutions.
Invest In Backup Energy
One way to get by on solar and wind energy is by investing in backup energy sources. These are additional energy sources that we use in case the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow. They provide us with additional security in the form of a cushion that can protect us from the ups and downs of nature. Because these resources provide a steady supply of power that doesn’t fluctuate, we don’t need to worry about running out of energy or having to cope with significant fluctuations in the quantity of energy that we get from the sun and wind. As a result, investing in backup energy is often considered to be a wise decision.
Conservation is also a smart move. If we reduce our energy usage, we can generate less waste and consume less of the natural resources that we need to survive. For example, if we reduce the amount of electricity that we use, it will reduce the amount of coal that is burned, and consequently the pollution that is created. Reducing energy usage will also allow us to keep the energy that we generate for longer before we need to recharge.
In addition to reducing energy usage, we can also increase efficiency. Instead of wasting energy by powering appliances that we don’t need, we can identify what we need and try to use less energy to get the same result. This not only reduces the pollution that is caused but also helps us to cut down on our energy costs. In the U.S., we are not utilizing energy efficiently enough, which is why we pay so much for electricity. The more we are efficient, the more we will be able to cut down on our energy bills. In the long term, this can only be a good thing.
How To Get By On Solar And Wind Energy
With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at how we can get by on solar and wind energy. First, we need to identify our energy requirements. This will be particularly important if we are to reduce our energy usage, as we don’t want to end up with a surfeit of electricity and no means of storing it. In many cases, these energy requirements can be easily met by the sun and the wind alone. In extreme cases, such as remote areas where power lines cannot reach or areas where the sun doesn’t shine, we will need to rely on additional energy sources.
In these situations, we will need to ensure that we have enough capacity to meet our energy requirements. There are a few considerations that we need to make to ensure that we make the most of the energy that we have. First, we should install extra equipment, such as power generation systems and battery storage, to increase the amount of energy that we can generate. As discussed above, this will help reduce the amount of noise and damage caused by fluctuations in the energy supply. It will also help increase our security and the ability to prepare for periods of downtime, such as during an extended blackout or brownout. In addition, we should track the performance of our solar panels and wind turbines to ensure that we are utilizing them to their maximum capacity and avoid energy waste.