With renewables in the limelight for decades, it begs the question—Why is renewable energy important?
Climate change is emerging as the number one threat to humanity, from gigantic hurricanes to blistering polar vortexes. Let’s explore why renewable energy is important for the future.
1. Renewables are Inexhaustible Energy
Although fossil fuels are predominantly the source of energy, the reality is that they will eventually run out. And this is where renewable energy (wind, sun, and water) has an advantage; there is a never-ending supply.
As the population grows (and swells), renewable energy can sustain our energy needs. The earth continues to cycle, constantly replenishing renewable energy, making renewables inexhaustible and popular. And many are recognizing this advantage because consumption of renewables has tripled from 2000 to 2019 (1).
With fossil fuels, resources are limited, where importing and international tensions increase to obtain natural gas. Drilling for fossil fuels in our homelands is also an issue, as oil spills may occur, threatening our oceans.
2. Renewable Energy Reduces Dependence Overseas
Fossil fuels are usually imported. In 2020, the United States, despite being one of the largest oil producers in the world, has imported crude oil from Canada (61%), Mexico (11%), Saudi Arabia (8%), Colombia (4%), and Iraq (3%) (2).
Instead of using fossil fuels from overseas with geopolitical tensions, countries can use domestic resources to create jobs and produce cleaner energy sources (3). In fact, the U.S. is currently working on ways to build a 100% clean grid:
As you can see, renewable energy gives countries a chance to thrive domestically. Nations can use natural resources available on their land, such as hydro, solar, and wind to generate electricity. Local manufacturing industries can also take advantage of renewables expanding.
3. Renewable Energy is Cost-Effective
When you answering the question, “Why is renewable energy important?” you have to mention that the price continues to decline (4). Its elements such as water, sun, wind—are free!
For residential homes, there is an upfront cost to pay, such as setting up solar panels. However, in the long-run, prices stabilize. During COVID-19, oil prices spiked because people used less transportation. Renewables are gaining an opportunity for faster adoption as renewable prices decline (5).
Renewable generation sources have become extraordinarily competitive from an economic standpoint,… It’s a terrific story.
On the other hand, fossil fuels continue to fluctuate as politics, manipulation, and scarcity continue to drive prices.
4. Renewable Energy Creates Jobs
As more countries start to adopt renewable energy, it will also generate more job opportunities. As a matter of fact, renewable energy jobs have the largest projection to grow faster than other industries. Jobs such as installing solar panels and wind turbine technicians expect to grow 94% to 100% in the next decade (6).
Globally, there were 5.5 million renewable energy jobs (7). By 2019, there were 11.5 million jobs, doubling in roughly six years.
5. Renewable Energy is Clean
Fossil fuels emit harmful chemicals into our atmosphere, such as greenhouse gases (8). On the other hand, renewable energy doesn’t pollute the earth. In fact, it is the cleanest alternative source of energy available.
Renewables come from clean sources, such as sun, wind, water. These elements also do not produce air pollution, unlike fossil fuels. While other sources, like geothermal energy have pros and cons because they produce some air pollution, it’s at a much lower rate than fossil fuels.
6. Renewable Energy Helps Local Governments
Each area in the U.S. and around the world has different needs and costs. By using renewable energy, local governments can help communities and regions where the availability of conventional energy is not an option. Moreover, embracing renewables has advantages (9), such as:
- Lowering electricity costs, saving money
- Create local job oppportunities
- Reducing greenhouse gases and emissions within the community.
- Renewable energy is a clean source, meaning it doesn’t produce greenhouse gases and emissions, and can even help improve air quality.
- Strengthening energy systems
- Uplifting the community
7. Rural Areas Benefit From Renewable Energy
Many rural areas have limited or don’t have complete access to electricity. This is because either the location is too remote or the power plant is too far. The good thing is rural areas have vast amounts of land to use, readily available. Local communities, with the help of the government, can use renewable energy as another source for their electricity needs.
The benefits of having renewable energy for the rural community include (10):
- New economic opportunities
- Reduce water usage
- Protect against power disruptions
- Free up funds, as renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels
8. Renewable Energy Increases Access to Electricity
The truth is not everyone has electricity. As a matter of fact, there are more than 1 billion people that lack electricity access (11). Sadly, one more billion do not have reliable electricity. And, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Instead of conventional energy sources, using renewable energy can increase access to electricity, especially for impoverished areas. The declining technology costs, improved reliability, and supportive government policies can make renewable energy a sustainable energy source for long-term use.
9. Renewable Energy is Expanding Rapidly
Renewable and alternative energy sources present excellent opportunities for possible investments. For example, job creation, industry expansion, stocks, and products such as the electric car mark the beginning of a new age (12).
And we will have the choice of the collapse of civilization—and into the Dark Ages we go—or we find something renewable.
Fortunately, renewables are trending up. Global electricity generation from renewables in 2018 was 26.2% and may increase to 45% in 2050. In addition, the U.S. has seen a 100% increase in renewables from 2000 to 2018 (13). To help put this acceleration into perspective, you can check out the latest pros and cons of wind energy for a first-hand look at a rapidly growing industry.
10. Health and Environmental Benefits of Renewable Energy
Renewable energy can help improve our health. For example, solar power can help the environment and increase health benefits (14), such as:
- Reducing water scarcity
- Mitigate climate change, saving billions
- Curb air pollution and prevent billions in health damages
- Reduce pollutants, saving thousands of lives in unnecessary health costs
At the end of the day, there’s many reasons why solar energy is important, along with other renewable energy sources because their development unlocks a better future for us all, and the planet alike.
Which Renewable Energy is Growing the Fastest?
The renewable energy that is growing the fastest is solar energy.
It currently employs the most people globally and is projected to increase for decades to come.
How Can Renewable Energy Save the Planet?
Renewable energy can save the planet by reducing our carbon footprint, resulting in less smog, better air quality, and cleaner water.
For example, biomass energy has pros and cons, but when comparing the burning of natural materials like wood to fossil fuels like gasoline, it’s easy to see which is better for the Earth. From the health of our planet, to the health each individual all across the map, our collective futures depend on the development of renewable, and sustainable energy sources.
Are Renewables Cheaper than Fossil Fuels?
Yes, renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels because they are inexhaustible. Rapid adoption is leading to the decline in renewable energy prices, including advancement in technology. Many will argue that fossil fuels are a cheaper source of energy, but that greatly discounts the future.
- Renewable energy explained. Retrieved from: https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/renewable-sources/
- Oil and petroleum products explained. Retrieved from: https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/oil-and-petroleum-products/imports-and-exports.php
- Energy Innovation Seen as Needed to Reduce Dependence on Foreign Oil Save Money | The Pew Charitable Trusts. Retrieved from: https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/about/news-room/press-releases-and-statements/2012/07/24/energy-innovation-seen-as-needed-to-reduce-dependence-on-foreign-oil-save-money
- Renewable Energy Prices Hit Record Lows: How Can Utilities Benefit from Unstoppable Solar and Wind? Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/energyinnovation/2020/01/21/renewable-energy-prices-hit-record-lows-how-can-utilities-benefit-from-unstoppable-solar-and-wind/
- How Renewable Energy Could Emerge on Top After Pandemic – Yale E360. Retrieved from: https://e360.yale.edu/features/how-renewable-energy-could-emerge-on-top-after-the-pandemic
- Green growth: Employment projections in environmentally focused occupations: Career outlook: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved from: https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2018/data-on-display/green-growth.htm
- Renewable energy employment worldwide 2019 | Statista. Retrieved from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/859908/employment-in-renewable-energy-sector-globally/
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- Energy Resources for State, Local, and Tribal Governments | US EPA. Retrieved from: https://www.epa.gov/statelocalenergy
- Renewable Energy Brings Economic Boost to Rural Communities | NRDC. Retrieved from: https://www.nrdc.org/experts/arjun-krishnaswami/renewable-energy-brings-economic-boost-rural-communities
- Benefits. Retrieved from https://www.irena.org/benefits
- Elon Musk Says We Must Switch to Renewables or Plunge Into “the Dark Ages”. Retrieved from: https://futurism.com/elon-musk-says-we-must-switch-to-renewables-or-plunge-into-the-dark-ages
- Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. Retrieved from: https://www.c2es.org/content/renewable-energy/
- The Environmental and Public Health Benefits of Achieving High Penetration of Solar Energy in the United States | Department of Energy. Retrieved from: https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/downloads/environmental-and-public-health-benefits-achieving-high-penetration-solar