While the world’s attention is on the COVID-19 pandemic, the global energy market is taking a bigger hit than usual. Oil prices are fluctuating, and wind and solar power seem to be the preferred energy sources of the future. While the trend is positive, the economical and environmental questions are just as relevant as ever. This is due, in part, to the fact that the world’s largest and most industrialised nations are taking a closer look at their energy use, and searching for alternatives to oil and coal. That being said, the renewable versus non-renewable debate is as relevant now as it ever was, especially when considering the fact that oil, gas, and coal are currently some of the cheapest sources of energy available. The debate surrounds which energy source is better for the environment, limiting global warming and climate change, and more sustainable over the long term. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of each and compare the renewable with the non-renewable.
When it comes to non-renewable energy, the environmental impact is very high. Firstly, the extraction of the raw material is not limited, which is often the case with renewable energy. Secondly, the production process of non-renewable energy leads to more pollution, as well. In some cases the pollution is so high that the energy source is no longer usable, which is a major drawback. Thirdly, most of the time, non-renewable energy is associated with high energy prices, especially for those who need it the most. The high costs make it harder for those who rely on it financially to develop alternatives. Finally, over the long term, non-renewables are more likely to run out, as the Earth’s resources are gradually depleted. If we want a reliable energy supply in the future, we should be looking towards renewable energy sources.
When it comes to renewable energy, the environmental impact is almost negligible. Firstly, the extraction of the raw material is limited to what is sustainably available, which is often the case with solar and wind power. Secondly, the production process of renewable energy is environmentally friendly, as it doesn’t involve the mining of non-renewable resources. Thirdly, as the usage is limited to what is available naturally, there are no unwanted by-products as there are with non-renewables. Finally, over the long term, renewable energies are sustainable, as there are still places where the sun and wind are prolific, such as the Sahara desert and the pacific northwest.
Which Is Better For The Environment?
Both renewable and non-renewable energies have significant pros and cons, which makes it difficult to choose one over the other. If we are going to reduce our dependence on oil and coal, and reduce global warming and climate change, we need to start switching to more sustainable energy sources as soon as possible. However, until we have alternative sources available, renewable energies seem to be the better choice. The fact that they have a minimal impact on the environment is certainly a bonus.
The fact that renewable energies have very little impact on the environment makes them ideal for those who want to reduce their carbon footprint. However, if we want to keep the lights on 24/7, non-renewable energies are still the go-to choice. The price is right, and the availability is not as limited as it is for renewables.
The Rise Of Renewable Energy
According to the Global Market Insights team at Accenture, the overall demand for renewables is set to increase nearly every year from 2020 to 2025. This increase is mainly attributed to climate change concerns and the drive to reduce carbon emissions. The report predicts that by 2025, 35 gigawatts of new capacity will be added annually, with the majority of this growth occurring in the electricity sector.
It should come as no surprise that renewable energies, such as solar and wind power, are attracting so much attention, as they provide a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. With continued development and innovation, even more efficient methods of generating energy from the sun and wind, as well as developing new materials, it is feasible that renewables could one day replace fossil fuels altogether. This will not happen overnight, but with continued drive and initiative, the transition to a renewable energy economy could be made a lot sooner than anyone thinks.