4 Reasons Renewable Energy is Important
You've probably heard that renewable energy is good for the planet and for people, but what is it exactly? From solar to wind, let's talk more about renewable energy, the fastest-growing source of energy in the world – and how we can use it to benefit the climate, the environment, the economy and social cohesion.
So what is renewable energy?
Renewable energy is energy derived from natural resources that replenish themselves in less than a human lifetime without depleting the planet’s resources. These resources – such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, biomass and thermal energy stored in the earth’s crust – have the benefit of being available in one form or another nearly everywhere. They are virtually inexhaustible, hence them being dubbed "renewable". To put the cherry on top, they cause little climate or environmental damage, making them a desirable option for those conscious about their impact on the Earth.
On the other side, we have fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas that are available in finite quantities only. As we keep extracting them, we keep diminishing the supply. Although they can be produced in natural processes, they simply can't keep up with the rate in which humans use them.
In today's world, we still heavily rely on fossil fuels. Meanwhile, the pollution they cause – from climate-damaging greenhouse gases to health-endangering particles – has reached record levels. And when something goes wrong, like when the Deepwater Horizon oil platform exploded in 2010, the consequences are often dramatic.
The good news is, since 2011, the renewable energy industry is growing faster than all other energy forms. As with each passing year, renewable energy had another record-breaking year in 2021, as installed power capacity grew more than 314 gigawatts (GW) – its largest increase ever. Almost 29% of our electricity now comes from renewable energy – and this keeps growing.
Key benefits of renewable energy
Much like any human activity, all energy sources have an impact on our environment. Renewable energy is no exception to the rule, and each source has its own trade-offs. However, the advantages over the devastating impacts of fossil fuels are undeniable: from the reduction of water and land use, less air and water pollution, less wildlife and habitat loss, to no or lower greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition, their local and decentralized character as well as technology development generate important benefits for the economy and people.
1. Renewable energy emits no or low greenhouse gases. That’s good for the climate.
The combustion of fossil fuels for energy results in a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. Most sources of renewable energy result in little to no emissions, even when considering the full life cycle of the technologies.
2. Renewable energy emits no or low air pollutants. That’s better for our health.
Worldwide increases in fossil fuel-based road transport, industrial activity, and power generation (as well as the open burning of waste in many cities) contributes to elevated levels of air pollution. In many developing countries, the use of charcoal and fuelwood for heating and cooking also contributes to poor indoor air quality. Particles and other air pollutants from fossil fuels literally asphyxiate cities. According to studies by the World Health Organization, their presence above urban skies is responsible for millions of premature deaths and costs billions.
3. Renewable energy allows for lower costs, allowing energy to be affordable.
With continued supply chain issues and a diminishing supply, the costs of fossil fuels continues to rise. Since renewable energy is produced locally, it is less affected by geopolitical crisis or price spikes or sudden disruptions in the supply chain. With that, of course, there is an up front investment in the energy sources, but the long term stability and reliability outweighs that investment.
4. Renewable energy creates jobs.
Clean energy development accounted for 4.2% of all created jobs nationally in 2018 according to Forbes. In general, renewable energy infrastructures allow for more independence. For example, companies who invest in large scale renewable energy bring in management teams (like GridSwitch) to manage efficiency. Job creation is a key piece of the economy, so that's just another bonus added!
Learn how renewable energy could benefit your company
Here at GridSwitch, we specialize in all aspects of helping companies and corporations make a smooth and beneficial transition to renewable energy. From planning and engineering to upkeep and maintenance, we're by your side every step of the way to achieve your goals.
If you want to learn more about how we operate, click here.