Renewable energy is acquired from naturally occurring and inexhaustible sources, such as sunlight, wind, water, and geothermal heat. In order to be classified as “renewable,” the energy source must be able to be replenished during an average human lifespan.
This stands in sharp contrast to fossil fuel energy. Fossil fuels, which include coal, oil, and natural gas, can run out eventually and take thousands, or even millions, of years to replenish.
Clearly, relying on renewable energy rather than fossil fuels feels much more secure since it won’t run out, but did you know that there are other advantages as well? Consider the following top benefits of renewable energy.
While renewable energy used to be considered an expensive alternative to fossil fuels, this has changed in recent years. The costs associated with many sources of renewable energy have declined significantly in recent years, and as more infrastructure is put into place, the costs are expected to drop even further.
In fact, a recent analysis revealed that renewable energy is already saving consumers money. The study demonstrated solar power, followed closely by wind power, produces cheaper electricity than fossil fuel alternatives. More specifically, the electricity price for solar energy was $37/MWh, while the price for wind energy was $40/MWh. In contrast, the prices for combined cycle gas turbines and coal were $56/MWh and $92.5/MWh, respectively.
Creates No Emissions
Not only does renewable energy save money, but it also results in fewer greenhouse emissions, and thus, helps with climate change. Our world’s reliance on and consumption of fossil fuels have created our current climate crises because they create and release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. These greenhouse gases contain a host of harmful emissions, including carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, and fluorinated gas.
Conversely, renewable energy sources like solar panels and wind turbines provide the necessary power without creating emissions. Since safe alternatives like these exist, there is no excuse for the world to continue relying on fuels that ultimately wreak havoc on the planet.
Reduces Toxic Air Pollutants
In addition to creating the greenhouse gases responsible for the current climate crisis, burning fossil fuels also creates toxic air pollutants, such as acid rain, smog, and ground-level ozone. Ground-level ozone is particularly bad and can cause a myriad of health issues, including throat irritation, coughing, inflammation of the airways, impaired lung functions, and even damaged lung tissue.
Conversely, renewable energy sources can generate the necessary electricity without releasing dangerous pollutants. Thus, the faster the world shifts from fossil fuels to cleaner forms of energy, the sooner the air will become safer to breathe.
Decreases Your Carbon Footprint
Each individual makes decisions on a daily basis that can impact the environment, and in turn, the future of the planet. It’s important to remember that as stewards of the earth, everyone has a responsibility to protect the environment and not add to the current climate crisis.
Your carbon footprint is the measure of how much your everyday decisions negatively impact the environment. Clearly, the smaller your carbon footprint is, the better. For this reason, it’s important to aim for a smaller carbon footprint by thinking about where your energy comes from and whether it’s creating harmful emissions. When you switch from fossil fuel energy to clean renewable energy, such as solar and wind, you lower your carbon footprint.
Uses Much Less Water
It may surprise you to learn that most energy sources need lots of water in order to operate. For example, when natural gas or coal is used to generate electricity, the process involves using the gas or coal to heat water and create steam that powers the turbines.
Conversely, wind and solar do not rely on water to generate power. While hydropower relies on water, the process involves the flow of water rather than the creation of steam. For example, the flow of water through a river, stream, or dam can be harnessed to create power as it travels along its natural path.
Renewable energy offers many advantages over traditional fossil fuels. In addition to providing the peace of mind in knowing that this type of energy source will always be around, renewable energy saves money, uses less water, and helps the environment by reducing emissions, pollution, and in turn, your carbon footprint.