The demand for clean energy is constantly increasing, as people continue to suffer from the ill effects of air pollution. Governments and businesses around the world are working hard to find sustainable sources of energy, as the global climate is becoming increasingly unstable.
While there are various sources of energy that are harmful to the environment, solar and wind energy are undoubtedly the greenest. Not only do they not generate radioactive waste like other energy sources, but they are also completely renewable. The environment benefits not only from the lack of pollution, but also from the decreased need to find new places to drill for oil or gas, since these sources of energy are already available on the surface of the Earth!
Reduces Energy Dependence
The global dependence on oil and gas-fired energy is becoming a major issue. In the past, developing countries have relied on oil revenues to power their economies and maintain a high living standard. However, with the recent rise in oil prices and the need to reduce energy consumption, these countries are searching for alternatives. Wind and solar energy sources are already helping to reduce energy dependence by providing a sustainable source of power.
In 2016, renewables contributed 13% of global electricity generation, which was an increase of 7% compared to 2015 and 11% compared to 2014. Also, between 2015 and 2018, the yearly average percentage of electricity generated by wind and solar energy increased by 12% and 16%, respectively. This is largely due to government policy, as discussed below. Wind and solar energy are, therefore, becoming established as contributors to global electricity generation.
Decreases Diversion Of Fossil Fuels
It is generally accepted that fossil fuels cause various environmental problems, the most notable being climate change. The burning of fossil fuels creates pollutants which affect air quality, and the extraction and processing of these fuels require large amounts of water. Countries around the world are working hard to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels, and one way of doing this is by shifting to renewable sources of energy.
In 2016, fossil fuels sourced from overseas accounted for 23% of global energy generation, down from 28% in 2015. The share of fossil fuels produced in China decreased from 41% to 39% over this same period. These figures illustrate how the development of renewable energy sources has enabled countries to switch from relying on imports of fossil fuels to obtaining sufficient energy locally. In some cases, this has involved the development of fossil fuel substitutes, such as hydrogen for fuel cells or methane gas for fuel pipelines. In other instances, it simply means obtaining energy from other sources, such as from solar or wind farms.
Has No Impact On Human Health
It is important to consider the effect that different energy sources have on human health. Most electricity generation from fossil fuels is done using coal, and exposure to this substance is known to be harmful. The World Health Organization has classified coal mining as a “cancer-causing industry.”
Coal plants emit various substances which are toxic to humans. These substances include heavy metals, such as arsenic, barium, and lead, as well as benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene. Benzene is a carcinogen – a substance which causes cancer – and is also extremely irritating to the human respiratory system. Exposure to these toxins and carcinogens is known to cause various diseases, such as asthma, bronchitis, and heart disease. Coal-fired energy causes thousands of deaths each year.
On the other hand, nuclear energy is another popular option for generating electricity, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) estimates that around 39% of the world’s energy currently comes from this source. However, many people are worried about the effects of radiation on human health, and there have been cases where nuclear energy has been linked to cancer. Also, some research has suggested that regular exposure to low levels of radiation may increase the risk of heart disease.
Nuclear energy can also have a significant impact on the environment. The IAEA reports that there are several major sources of radioactive contamination caused by nuclear power plants, including the water table, vegetation, and soil. This is primarily due to the large amounts of liquid that are used in the process of generating electricity and for cooling reactors. Also, when spent nuclear fuel is not stored properly, it becomes a hazardous waste, which must be disposed of. One of the most popular alternatives to nuclear energy is solar energy, which does not have these repercussions on health and the environment.
Has A Positive Impact On The Global Economy
Renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind energy, have a number of benefits for the global economy. First, as discussed above, they reduce energy dependence. Second, they reduce the greenhouse gases emitted as a result of energy generation, which in turn has a positive effect on climate change. Third, they improve the air quality, which benefits everyone. Finally, they can attract significant investment, since companies are able to offer long-term power purchase agreements which are secured by utility-scale solar and wind farms.
The above points illustrate the significant benefits that can be derived from investing in renewable energy sources. However, it must be noted that, although they can reduce the dependence on fossil fuels and have a number of other advantages, they still have some drawbacks. These include the cost of installation and the fact that they require more maintenance. Also, the intermittency of wind and solar energy can create problems for people who rely on electricity for their survival, as discussed below. However, these issues are being overcome, and the future of renewable energy looks very promising.
Recovery Of Wasted Energy
It is estimated that around 33% of the power that is generated worldwide is wasted. This is because of various inefficiencies in the electricity grid, including energy theft and inefficient distribution systems. Renewable energy sources have the potential to reduce this figure significantly. For instance, energy produced by photovoltaic panels and solar thermal systems can be stored, and used later to provide some degree of continuous generation. This is particularly beneficial for areas which suffer from regular power cuts, such as Ireland and the UK. Storing energy also enables energy to be generated during off-peak periods, when demand is low, which helps to balance the grid and reduces the amount of wasted energy. These are all significant advantages of renewable energy sources!
Reduces Fuel Costs
The cost of fuel is one of the major factors which prevent people from generating their own electricity. In order to generate enough energy to meet their daily needs, power stations must be operated continually, which in turn requires continuous fuel supply and maintenance. Renewable energy sources can significantly reduce the cost of fuel, as they require less maintenance and have a much lower fuel combustion rate than fossil fuels. This is mainly because they do not deteriorate with age – unlike oil and gas, which must be purchased and replaced every year – and they do not need to be maintained at a specific temperature, unlike other energy sources.
This brings us to the most significant advantage of renewable energy sources: they reduce the cost of electricity. This is because electricity producers can negotiate cheaper contracts with electricity suppliers due to the significant volume of energy that they are able to generate. In 2018, photovoltaic installations provided the cheapest electricity in Australia, followed by wind farms and then fossil fuels. In 2020, it is expected that renewable energy sources will contribute significantly to maintaining a stable energy supply and reduced reliance on fossil fuels.
Overall, Renewable Energy Sources Are Good For The Environment
Overall, renewable energy sources are good for the environment. They reduce the amount of pollution which is emitted, mainly due to their intermittent nature, and they reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. In addition, they improve the air quality and attract investment, since companies offering power purchase agreements are more likely to invest in a renewable energy project if they know that they will be able to sell their energy to a reliable power provider for the long term. Finally, renewable energy sources reduce the need to find new places for oil and gas drilling, as these are already accessible on the surface of the Earth. All of this indicates that, overall, renewable energy sources are a good option for reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and maintaining a cleaner environment!