While fossil fuels require extensive mining, transportation and processing to make electricity and create harmful greenhouse gases and other pollutants, renewable energy sources do not. Researchers are advancing the frontiers of renewable technology, from capturing low-frequency kinetic energy in raindrops to converting solar power into electricity.
Less Harmful Emissions
Renewable energy is clean, unlike fossil fuel technologies, which produce significant pollution. Wind, solar, hydroelectric, and nuclear power do not produce CO2 emissions. The biggest source of pollution from renewables is generated by biomass, which utilizes organic waste such as animal dung, solid plant matter, and leftover food to create electricity. Burning biomass is not as harmful as coal burning, but it still produces some air pollutants and can cause harm to humans and animals. Other forms of renewable energy, like wind turbines and solar photovoltaic cells, are also relatively clean, although they require land usage. Renewable energy facilities do not need costly scrubbing equipment to mitigate air pollution or the massive cleanup costs associated with old fossil-fuel plants.
With the price of renewables steadily decreasing, more and more countries can benefit from this power source. This helps them break free from import dependence, diversify their economies away from oil price fluctuations, propel inclusive economic expansion and job creation, and reduce poverty.
Reduced Carbon Footprint
Utilizing renewable energy has the primary effect of lowering our carbon footprint. The amount of greenhouse gases we make while living, such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases, is called our “carbon footprint.” We can contribute to limiting the rise in global temperatures that has been taking place over the last ten years by cutting back on our use of fossil fuels and increasing our reliance on renewable energy sources. Unlike the mining of fossil fuels, which requires large infrastructure networks that include heavy machinery, processing stations and pipelines, the importance of renewable energy greatly transforms natural resources directly into electricity. As a result, these systems generate low to zero greenhouse gas emissions during their operation. While coal power plants emit 2.2 pounds of CO2 for every kilowatt-hour of electricity, solar and wind turbines create none. While some renewable systems recoup their embodied energy in relatively short periods (e.g., a year or less), others need more time to compensate for their inefficiencies. This is particularly true of wind and solar energy, which have a greater impact in areas with consistently sunny or windy climates.
As a result, there are many ways that local governments can use renewable energy to lower their carbon footprint. This includes generating their electricity on-site or purchasing green power through a procurement process. Other options for reducing our carbon footprint include recycling, reducing food waste and incorporating nature-based solutions into our communities.
Lower Energy Bills
Unlike fossil fuels, which require extensive networks of heavy machinery, processing stations and pipelines to produce a kilowatt hour of electricity, renewable energy sources like solar panels, wind turbines, hydropower and biomass do not emit greenhouse gases or other pollutants during their production process. This means that they can be more cost-effective than conventional energy sources to operate and maintain. Some companies install hybrid power systems that combine renewables with traditional energy sources to reduce the initial investment. These energy systems can save businesses money in the long run by reducing their energy bills.
Additionally, while fossil fuels are becoming increasingly difficult to extract from the Earth and often require large investments to transport and store, renewable energy is abundant and cost-effective. As a result, it is cheaper to use renewable energy than ever before. Using renewables can also help to reduce energy dependence on imported fossil fuels, making nations more resilient to price shocks and crises. It is estimated that a global transition to renewable energy could save over $4 trillion a year by 2030, with benefits including reduced pollution and climate impacts, local wealth creation, increased job opportunities and poverty alleviation.
With the world’s focus on climate change and ambitious carbon-reduction goals, one of the unexpected benefits of using renewable energy is that it creates jobs. In the United States alone, solar and wind power employ three times as many people as fossil fuels. This job creation also tends to pay above-average wages. This is great news for anyone interested in finding a rewarding career or helping to create a brighter future for the planet. Renewable energy careers range from engineering roles like electrical, environmental and mechanical engineers to architects, planners and project managers. Several other non-technical positions work to help make renewable energy possible. Sustainability professionals help businesses meet environmental and social goals, while communications specialists manage the industry’s public face. The best way to discover which green energy careers are right for you is to start by evaluating your interests and values. Then, look at courses and degree options that can offer you the skills you need to be successful in your chosen role.