Our continued use and consumption of fossil fuels have contributed to record levels of C02 in the atmosphere. The time has come to make a change. If we ignore that we are harming our planet, the damage will become irreversible. Warmer temperatures, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers are just a few of our problems. So, why is renewable energy important?
Renewable energy comes from a clean source, and it is inexhaustible. Unlike fossil fuels, there is an endless supply of the sun, wind, and other natural forces used to generate electricity renewably.
As it stands, oil reserves will run out in 53 years and natural gas in 54 years. Eventually, coal will disappear in 110 years6. This might seem like a lifetime away, but despite our ambitions, switching to renewable energy will take time. And it's a switch away from non-renewable we must make to provide a cleaner energy future for the next generation. This switch involves replacing non-renewable power plants burning coal and natural gas, alongside other polluters such as our petrol-powered cars, and industrial emissions with energy from clean, green renewable sources.
Renewable energy is clean. Therefore, it does not produce greenhouse gases to produce electricity and generate energy. This means if we choose to use renewable energy, we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cut down industrial air pollution and help to prevent climate change. What's more, the cost of renewable energy is falling, which helps to make it more accessible than ever before
There are many different types of renewable energy sources and supporting renewable energy technologies to harness them for our electrical and other energy needs. All can be used to create renewable energy in different ways, each with several various applications.
We can use the wind to drive turbines through onshore and offshore wind farms. Currently, there are almost 350,000 wind turbines around the world. All of which create clean electricity that businesses and communities can use.
This harnesses the power of the sun. Two predominant types of solar energy are used to produce solar energy. The first uses the sun's light to create energy, while the other uses heat. From small solar panels on individual houses to vast solar farms, they are all helping to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
We have been using water for centuries to produce energy, moving water such as rivers and freshwater currents to generate power. The flow of water drives underwater turbines that are used for electricity generation.
Organic material and waste, or biomass, can be burnt to create heat which we can convert into electricity. In fact, producing energy from organic materials is one of our oldest forms of energy.
The earth naturally produces heat. There are certain places on earth, such as Iceland, where we can find and use thermal energy stored beneath the earth's crust. We can use geothermal energy to heat water, generating clean electricity.
The ocean covers around 71% of the earth. A growing number of new developments show that we can also use the ever-moving tides to spin electricity-generating turbines.
Waves are a constant source of energy. Using the vertical movement of the water, we have the potential to harness this endless energy source.
This is an alternative to petrol and diesel. It comes from the fermentation of crops and now provides an alternative fuel for vehicles.
Similarly, this energy source is an alternative to diesel from vegetable oil and animal fats.
At the World Climate Summit in December 2015, the Paris Agreement was put in place. As a result, renewable energies were given support.
The Paris Agreement is a global objective with 200 countries committing to it. The aim is to reduce emissions such that we can keep the increase in global temperature below 2°C. This is the limit under which the most significant effects of global warming are prevented.
We must seek to increase our renewable energy usage by switching from polluting fossil fuels. There is no doubt about it. In the last decade alone, we have seen a significant increase in access to renewable energy. Despite this, we are still not doing enough.
Many international climate goals have been put in place under the Paris Agreement3. We also have a growing focus on sustainable development. However, for the most part, we are not on track to meet these goals. As a result, we are facing a climate crisis. Millions are at risk of food shortages and hunger4, while flooding will cause problems.
Scientists suggest that we have around 10-12 years to keep global warming at a maximum of 1.5°C. If we can do this, then we can avoid irreversible damage and save lives.
Given renewable energy is a limitless source, we can never run out. We can use endless sources that can help us to meet electricity demand. Energy derived from the sun, wind, and tides provide sustainable energy.
Meeting the objectives set out in the Paris climate agreement will not only reduce man-made greenhouse gases. The increased adoption of renewable energy also brings a range of political, socio-economic, and environmental advantages. With international targets and goals in place, we need to accelerate towards their renewable energy targets.
Renewable energy is not just better for our planet, but it is also better for our health. A switch to renewable energy prevents many of the polluting characteristics of burning fossil fuels. Air pollution and water pollution are caused by fumes burnt by our cars, factories, and power stations. These air pollutants have been linked to everything from heart problems and premature death.
In fact, a study from Harvard University found that the knock-on effects of air pollution on public health in the US alone cost three-quarters of a trillion dollars a year.
Further, renewable energy can help create stable energy prices and lower costs1. Local industry can benefit; currently, more than 10 million people work in the clean energy sector. The estimate is that more than 24 million people will work in the sector across the renewable energy supply chain by 2030, further fueling economic development.
Moving across to renewable energy will also help to boost the economy. The International Renewable Energy Agency identified that doubling the renewable energy share to 36% will result in global growth economic of 1.1% by 2030. It will also enhance well-being and improve employment opportunities.
When we rely on several clean energy sources, it also increases reliability and resilience. It means that we can call on other systems when one fails. We can see progress. For example, the New York metropolitan area began investing in renewable energy in 2012. This was following power shortages after several hurricanes. Today New York's renewable energy investments provide almost 23% of New York's electricity needs.
Across the world, 1.4 billion people lack access to electricity5—85% of those without live in rural areas.
Because renewable energy sources are accessible2, they can help provide energy security. We can find the sun and the wind pretty much everywhere across the world. This means installing solutions and accessing renewable energy from anywhere in the world is possible. Every country has access to some or all the sources of renewable energy. Whether a solar or wind power plant or utilizing water power, every country can produce sustainable energy.
We should no longer consider renewable energy in support of non-renewable energy sources. As such, the aim is to provide clean, green energy sources and reduce CO2 emissions. And our ambition should be to replace the need to burn fossil fuels entirely. It is a considerable challenge, but we must see renewable energy as a potential replacement.
Across social media, we've begun to see people commenting asking what is the worst that can happen given the switch to renewables? Many climate deniers argue that it's all a hoax. We don't emit pollution from burning oil into the atmosphere, costs come down, and more people have access to electricity and energy security.
Today, we know that wind and solar power work. We have seen how the renewable energy industry now powers millions of homes in the United States, the UK, and China. The potential is there, and there are more technologies readily available.
We don't believe the climate deniers have a leg to stand on. Even in the event that they are correct, surely switching to renewable energy is a good thing regardless?
To meet targets, we have to think about the bigger picture and a sustainable energy future. Energy companies have to invest more money. We need more clean power generation capacity. As awareness and demand grow, technology will further improve, increasing efficiency and further lowering costs.
Progress will aid in making renewable energy accessible to all. It is a huge challenge that we can face with the proper infrastructure and planning.
So, renewable energy is important. It is more important than ever before and is the main driver behind saving our planet and future generations from the damage caused by greenhouse gases.
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