- What Is Renewable Energy?
- Why Is Clean Energy So Important?
- Key Benefits of Renewable Energy for People and The Planet
- Where Can Renewable Energy Be Used?
As the Earth Day approaches next April 22nd, it is valuable to remind ourselves of the importance of green energy and its contributions to positively impact the environment and our planet. Electric power in the past caused pollution because it was necessary to burn gas, coal, and other fossil fuels to generate it, but with green energy, this is not the case anymore.
The importance of green and clean energy is huge for our planet and our society. This energy can tackle pollution and greenhouse gasses, which are a major threat to biological beings and an accelerating agent of climate change. In this article, we will talk in detail about renewable energy, its importance and key benefits for the planet, as well as how you can use it to make a positive impact to reduce your carbon footprint.
Renewable energy represents any energy source that can be harvested from naturally available resources and that is constantly replenished by natural processes occurring on a cycle. This energy is available in technically unlimited quantities, unlike fossil and nuclear fuels, which have a finite stock. What is most important about renewable energies is that since the energy generation is obtained by harvesting electricity or heat from a naturally occurring process, then there is no contamination for the environment and no toxic gasses are released to the atmosphere. This is the main reason why renewable energy is important to the environment. The most common types of renewable energies are the following:
- Solar energy
- Wind energy
- Hydraulic energy
- Ocean energy
- Geothermal energy
Solar energy harvests solar radiation and solar heat available worldwide to generate electricity or heat. Wind energy, hydraulic energy, and ocean energy harvest kinetic energy from the wind, bodies of water, and the ocean respectively to generate electricity. Meanwhile, geothermal energy harvests thermal energy from the Earth, more easily available at locations with geysers, to transform it into electricity or heat. Finally, bioenergy turns biomass into biofuel to generate power or also to generate heat.
The average yearly surface (air and water) temperature recorded since 1880 is the main metric used to determine the gravity of global warming. This temperature has increased by roughly 2ºF or 1ºC since that date, this temperature increase caused by GHG emissions may not seem like much, but it is the root cause of climate-related events like floods, wildfires, hurricanes, droughts, heat waves, air pollution, and more.
If the importance of using renewable energy is not considered to take preventive measures, temperature could rise to 1.5ºC, causing dire consequences for the Earth like stronger and frequent heat waves, reduced water quality, slightly shifted ecosystems, spreading of vector-borne diseases, and more. Damage from a 2ºC or higher increase would be practically irreparable, including the disappearance of certain ecosystems and species, constant extreme weather events, large-scale singular events, and more.
Ignoring the importance of renewable energy in points like climate change, air quality, global economy, and other similar subjects would be a mistake. Currently, around 25% of GHG emissions are caused by the electricity sector, shifting to renewable energies could reduce those emissions by 81% and bring down yearly GHG emissions by one-fifth.
The role of renewable energy and its importance is better understood by talking about its benefits for the people and the planet. In this section we list the key benefits of switching to green energy:
Less Global Warming
Global warming, one of the consequences of climate change caused by Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, is a major threat to life on Earth. These phenomena can reduce food production, increase temperatures on Earth, and cause all types of natural disasters.
The importance of renewable energy sources to mitigate the effects of climate change has been widely accepted by the scientific community. This is because reducing GHG emissions coming from energy generating sources allows the Earth to heal itself faster and may reverse climate change.
Improved Public Health
The importance of renewable energy on the subject of public health is also undeniable. Reducing GHG emissions by switching to green energy can reduce all types of public health problems, especially those related to air pollution. GHG emissions have been traced as an important cause of public health issues like pulmonary diseases, cardiovascular problems, malnutrition, aggravated allergies, and migration of disease-carrying vectors. Minimizing these emissions through clean renewable energy sources also provides better sanitary conditions for citizens and offers a better quality of life.
There is no hiding the fact that green energy is of great importance because of its practically inexhaustible availability in nature. For instance, one of the world’s most important renewable energy resources is solar energy, available worldwide in different degrees and intensities. Other extensively energy resources available to all countries include wind energy and bioenergy.
Jobs and Other Economic Benefits
Aside from reducing GHG emissions, green energy can become a rich resource for jobs and economic growth, which is why renewable energy sources’ importance is unquestionable. Currently, there are around 12.7 million jobs in the renewable energy industry and these are constantly growing, even better is that clean energies can save trillions of dollars worldwide if they replace fossil fuel energies.
Stable Energy Prices
The limited availability of fossil fuel resources caused energy prices to peak in 2022 and will keep on doing so in the following years. Unstable energy prices are caused by wars, raising prices for fossil fuels, and geopolitical issues in the Middle East. Another aspect proving the importance of using renewable energy is the vast availability of natural resources locally accessible and that remain constant, unaltered by external geopolitical issues. This provides stable capital and operational prices that might even decrease in time as the technology used to harvest this energy becomes even cheaper and more efficient.
Reliability and Resilience
Renewable energy resources are of vital importance for homeowners to obtain energy reliability & resilience. Homeowners with residential renewable energy systems coupled with a home battery can generate their own power and obtain reliability and resilience on their energy supply even during blackouts.
Currently, the transportation sector is responsible for around 29% of GHG emissions. This is a concerning number that surpasses emissions released by the electrical sector. Renewable energy is mostly used to save money on electricity bills with grid-tied rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems, but combined with Electric Vehicles (EVs) it has the potential to create a massive impact on GHG emissions.
EV technology features no tailpipe emissions. When powered with fossil fuel energy, EVs contaminate half to one-third of what Internal Combustion (ICE) Vehicles do, but when combined with renewable energies they could reduce those 29% GHG emissions to a minimum. The only unavoidable GHG emissions caused by EVs are released during the manufacturing process.
According to the EIA, there will be around 250 million EVs on the roads by 2030, but this is just the beginning. Entirely shifting to EVs and renewable energies worldwide would create an unprecedented reduction in GHG emissions, since the electricity sector could reduce its emissions by more than 20%, and combined with EV technology, GHG emissions could be potentially reduced to a half, which is where clean energy brings out its importance.
There is no better way to celebrate Earth day than by choosing to positively impact the world where you live. The best way to do this is by entirely shifting to renewable energies (like solar power) and electric vehicles, combining both would practically eliminate your carbon footprint and make our planet safer and better.