In recent years, there has been a great push for renewable energy. We know that fossil fuels and electricity generated from this process are harmful for the world. But that brings us to the question – what is so attractive about renewable energy? Here are five reasons why renewable energy is such a valuable good, and why we should all use it!
Firstly, renewable energy is derived from sources that are not depleted when used. These include sunlight, wind, and even rain. They of course can depend on certain conditions of weather, but for instance using wind power does not deplete its quantity. This form of producing energy therefore does not face the same problems as many fossil fuels, such as increased costs as they deplete.
Some renewable energy technologies are developed in ways that make them less prone to large-scale failures and far more reliable in many disaster situations. The modular and distributed forms of renewable energy means many systems are easily and swiftly deployable in response to natural disasters and complex emergencies. With increasing frequencies of extreme weather conditions resulting from climate change, the use of such technologies is crucial for effective disaster relief.
While the initial cost of many kinds of renewable energy can be daunting, it is much more affordable in the long-run. The UK’s Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy found that electricity generated from wind and solar are 30-50 percent cheaper than gas-fired electricity – much greater than thought before. By 2025, gas-fired electricity is expected to cost twice as much as wind or solar energy. An IRENA report has also found that a rapid transition to renewable energy could save the global economy over $160 trillion in costs associated with climate change. While this is an indirect form of cost saving, it is nonetheless one of paramount importance, especially for those countries facing increased episodes of extreme weather conditions.
Renewable energy has created over 11 million jobs in the world so far. The increase in uptake of renewable energy is vital for the creation of more jobs. This has been seen with Germany, which for the first time produced over 50 percent of its electricity using renewable energy in its first quarter of 2020. According to IRENA, Germany has created 284,000 jobs within renewable energy, giving it the largest renewable energy workforce in Europe.
Finally, the effects of pollution related to emissions from fossil fuel energy generation on human health are well documented. Exposure to air pollution has detrimental effects on the development of lungs in children. These children are not only more likely to develop asthma, but also are at an increased risk of infections such as pneumonia and lung cancer as adults. The presence of the effects of air pollution on mental health is also equally important. In the UK, researchers have recently found that small rises in air pollution are linked to significant rises in depression and anxiety. Specifically, small rises in nitrogen dioxide increased the risk of common mental disorders by over a third, and for tiny particle pollution, this same risk instead rises by 18 percent. Replacing our energy production with renewable methods that prevent the production of such harmful pollutants is essential to a healthier and sustainable future.
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IRENA. (2020). Renewable Energy and Jobs. (online). Available from: https://www.irena.org/publications/2020/Sep/Renewable-Energy-and-Jobs-Annual-Review-2020 (Accessed January 2021).
Schneer, K. & McGinn, A. (2019). Fact Sheet: Jobs in Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency. And Resilience. (online). EESI. 23 July. Available from: https://www.eesi.org/papers/view/fact-sheet-jobs-in-renewable-energy-energy-efficiency-and-resilience-2019#:~:text=Germany%3A%20According%20to%20IRENA%2C%20Germany,wind%20sector%20(140%2C800%20jobs). (Accessed January 2021).
Carrington, D. (2020). Small increases in air pollution linked to rise in depression, finds study. (online). The Guardian. 24 October. Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/oct/24/small-increases-in-air-pollution-linked-to-rise-in-depression-finds-study#:~:text=Small%20increases%20in%20people’s%20exposure,such%20study%20of%20UK%20adults.&text=For%20tiny%20particle%20pollution%2C%20which,the%20risk%20rose%20by%2018%25. (Accessed January 2021).
Evans, S. (2020). Wind and solar are 30-50% cheaper than thought, admits UK government. (online). Carbon Brief. 27 August. Available from: https://www.carbonbrief.org/wind-and-solar-are-30-50-cheaper-than-thought-admits-uk-government#:~:text=Electricity%20generated%20from%20wind%20and,newly%20published%20UK%20government%20figures.&text=As%20a%20result%2C%20electricity%20from,power%2C%20the%20new%20estimates%20suggest. (Accessed January 2021).
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