As global energy demands continue to rise exponentially, it’s become very apparent that renewable energy sources need to replace oil, coal, and other dirty, non-renewable sources. At some point, the damage to the environment will become irreversible and production won’t be able to continue to meet demands if they continue to rise as they currently are.
So what’s the solution to our growing energy problem? It’s very simple – investment is needed into cleaner renewable energy sources.
What exactly is Renewable Energy?
Renewable energy is defined as energy collected from resources that are naturally replenished on a human timescale. This would include energy sources like sunlight, wind, waves, tides, rain, and geothermal heat.
Essentially, the name tells it all. Renewable energy is energy that we won’t readily run out of any time soon. After all, the sun is going to stop burning for another 5.6 billion years and we’re not going to run out of wind any time soon. It will continually provide energy for centuries if we commit to it.
Renewable energy is already used to generate electricity, in air/water cooling and heating, in transportation, and in rural energy services. However, renewable energy only accounted for 22% of the world’s global energy according in 2014 according to the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21).
Advantages of Renewable Energy
While oil and coal still dominate the energy industry, it’s clear that renewable energy will eventually take over. It has to in order to prevent irrevocable environmental damage, and at some point, we will eventually run out. Even if that time doesn’t come for another two hundred years, it’s better to switch from non-renewable energy to alternative energy sources like wind and solar sooner than later. Here’s why:
- Renewable energy is cleaner: Wind, solar, water, and geothermal energy have virtually zero carbon footprints. Sure, the manufacturing process to make wind turbines or solar panels does have a small carbon footprint, but modern advancements in technology continue to limit this footprint.
- Homeowners can save tens of thousands of dollars: Even the average homeowner who installs solar panels on their home can save thousands of dollars over their lifetime. Although the costs continue to vary from year to year, some homeowners have saved $20,000+ on electric bills by switching to alternative energy sources.
- Renewable energy is a huge boost to the economy: Here in the United States, investment in renewable energy has helped prop up the economy. Jobs in the oil industry lost overseas are beginning to be replaced in the solar or wind energy fieldsr.
- A safer, more reliable electric grid is possible: Wind, especially could help create a more reliable and resilient energy grid. For example, during Hurricane Sandy, many have pointed out that solar and wind installations survived major damage whereas installations reliant on coal or oil were shut down completely.
Renewable energy provides us with an endless supply of clean, safe energy. We as a society must continue to invest into it so we can protect our environment and our health, and so we can eliminate our reliance on foreign oil for good.