Why choose renewable energy?
Wind turbines and solar panels are becoming an increasingly common sight all over the world. They rest on sun capped hills and stretch out to sea for miles around. But why? Why are these renewable energy solutions so prominent and important? In this article, PIF explores why you should choose renewable energy and discusses why renewable energy is a major factor in future life on planet earth.
What is renewable energy?
Renewable energy, also referred to as green energy, is power that is generated from natural energy sources that can be replenished. This is opposed to being created from non-renewable, finite resources such as coal or oil.
Common examples of renewable energy solutions include wind power, solar power, hydropower and biomass. In today’s society, there is an abundance of renewable energy information available at the click of a button, in this piece we will supply vital information on why renewable energy is the future.
Renewable energy solutions
Scientists actively work towards developing new renewable energy solutions every day. Below is some comprehensive renewable energy information on the most popular methods:
- Hydropower – Hydropower accounts for over 16% of the world’s net electricity production and more than 65% of the global power generation from renewable sources. It is the most commercially developed renewable energy and is extremely reliable. Hydropower works by building dams on rivers and releasing water from a reservoir to create a controlled flow of water that will drive a turbine, generating electricity.
- Wind power – Wind is plentiful, clean and renewable. Wind farms are becoming an increasingly familiar sight around the world, with wind power becoming one of the fastest growing renewable power sources in the world. A wind turbine uses a huge rotating blade that spins around in the wind and turns an electricity generator mounted in the nacelle (metal casing) behind.
- Solar power – Sunlight may be the planet’s most abundant and freely available renewable source but it also depends on the time of day, the season and geographical location. Solar power is carried out using solar panels on a photovoltaics (PV) or a concentrated solar power (CSP) system.
- Biomass - Biomass uses heat and electricity to produce liquid fuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel. Modern biomass, such as biofuels and wood pellets, is used to generate heat and power alongside traditional biomass sources, such as agricultural bi-products. Although biomass is renewable, widely available, versatile and helps reduce waste, burning it releases carbon emissions.
Why renewable energy?
Now we understand what renewable energy is, why should we use it and what are the benefits? There is an inexhaustible list of reasons why renewable energy should be used far and wide, ranging from economic benefits to improved public health.
Utilising renewable energy solutions is a massive step towards eradicating global warming. Human activity is pumping carbon dioxide and other global warming emissions into the atmosphere. These gases act as a shroud that traps in heat, reflecting it back at the earth and harmfully impacting the planet. These issues include stronger, more frequent storms, drought, sea level rises and habitat destruction.
Most renewable energy solutions produce little to no global warming emissions. Even when including the emissions from each stage of a renewable technology’s life (manufacturing, installation, operation and decommissioning), the global warming effects associated with renewable energy are nominal.
Pollution is a huge issue in modern society with air and water pollution emitted by coal and natural gas plants being linked to breathing problems, neurological damage, heart attacks, cancer, premature death, and a multitude of other serious issues. Most of these pollutants simply aren’t produced by green energy.
Wind, solar and hydroelectric systems generate power with no associated air pollution emissions. Biomass systems emit some air pollutants, however, total air emissions are lower than those of traditional power sources.
The beauty of our planet is that the natural cycle of life means a limitless supply of strong winds, sunny skies, abundant plant matter, heat from the earth and fast-moving water. Studies have repeatedly shown that renewable energy can provide a significant share of future electricity needs.
Fossil fuel technologies are ordinarily automated and capital intensive, whereas the renewable energy industry is much more labour intensive. Wind farms call for maintenance and technicians, solar panels need humans to install them. This means that, on average, more jobs are created for each unit of electricity generated from renewable energy solutions than from fossil fuels.
Renewable energy also provides more stable energy prices due to their low running costs and are less prone to major failure. Wind and solar power are distributed and modular systems. They are located over large geographical areas, which means extreme weather damage is unlikely to cut off power for an entire region.
Furthermore, modular systems are composed of numerous individual wind turbines or solar panels. Even if some of the equipment in the system is damaged, the rest can typically continue to operate.
So, why choose renewable energy? Not only is renewable energy clean, sustainable, versatile and can save on waste, but it also produces jobs for the ever-expanding population of the world. The reliability of renewable energy solutions combined with their ability to cut back on greenhouse gases makes them the obvious choice for future generations.
For more renewable energy information take a look at our top 10 renewable energy facts article or visit our energy and renewables hub.
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