Energy has been one of the most neglected issues in international development. Look at how far we have come in industrial, medical, architectural, and entertainment sectors. Even interplanetary leaps are not science fiction for us anymore. Still, somehow our society didn’t really progress that much in utilizing clean energy. We are still heavily dependent on fossil fuels, that ran our industrial engine, but kept emptying out the planet’s core. This has been going on for centuries. And, only recently, the connection between continuous depletion of fossil fuel reserves and its effects on the world have been made. Puzzled by the obvious question, “what will happen after we consume all fossil fuel reserves?”, human society is finally beginning to think beyond state and national borders.
At the beginning of industrialisation, we didn’t care much about anything other than going forward at full throttle. Driving, riding (cars), and flying seemed way important to us back then than subtle environmental changes. Restrictions or red flags seemed un-important when compared to the giant leaps we were making in various sectors. However, effects of using fossil fuels are not so subtle now. Changing climate, increasing environmental heat, escalating CO2 emissions- all of these have reminded us of our past mistakes and now we are starting to make changes- little by little.
Besides, when after centuries of development, 1.6 billion people still do not have access to electricity; it is unequivocally time to change the energy source.
In such a situation, the merit of generating and utilizing sustainable, clean energy has received attention. But, before accepting Renewable energy as the suitable replacement for our conventional energy sources, let us try to analyse- why Renewable energy?
To Satisfy Increasing Demand
With world’s population booming, energy demand is likely to increase even faster. Now, whether the future will be dominated by extensive grid systems, or distributed generation (close to the points of use) trend will take a foothold, is another argument. But, the primary question is, can the increased demand be satisfied with fossil fuels? To answer this question, we need to know how much fossil fuel we use now? Today, worldwide, 68% of our energy comes from fossil fuels (41% coal, 21% gas, 5.5% oil). Since fossil fuels are limited resources, we can assume with certainty that conventional resources will not be able to help us go forward in the future.
On the other hand, focusing on sustainable (renewable) energy promises to power up the future without damaging Earth’s interiors and atmosphere.
To Stop Climate Calamity
Environmental pollution is one of the major disadvantage of fossil fuels. It is a known fact that carbon dioxide is released when fossil fuels are burnt, and it is one of the primary gases responsible for global warming. Rise in temperature of earth has resulted in melting of polar ice caps, flooding of low lying areas and rise in sea levels, plus issues like climate change, air pollution, oil spills, and acid rain are threatening the ecological balance of the planet. At the centre of fossil fuel usage there is coal, oil, and gas.
Spreading erosion: Mining, drilling, and other processes used to extract fossil fuel, create empty spaces at the belly of our planet, which lead to abnormal shifts, resulting in disastrous earthquakes, tsunami, huge sinkholes, soil erosion, flood, and drought. Burning fossil fuels present threat to our environment as well. One of most serious in terms of its universal and potentially irreversible consequences of using fossil fuels is global warming.
Poison in the air: Burning fossil fuels emit a number of air pollutants that are harmful to both the environment and public health. Sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions, primarily the result of burning coal, contribute to acid rain and the formation of harmful particulate matter. In addition, SO2 emissions can exacerbate respiratory ailments, including asthma, nasal congestion, and pulmonary inflammation. In 2014, fossil fuel combustion at power plants accounted for 64 percent of US SO2 emissions.
Nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions, a by-product of all fossil fuel combustion, contribute to acid rain and ground-level ozone (smog), which can burn lung tissue and can make people more susceptible to asthma, bronchitis, and other chronic respiratory diseases. Fossil fuel-powered transportation is the primary contributor to US NOx emissions.
Contaminated water: Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of mercury emissions in the air. Mercury settles onto the ground and eventually passes through the food chain to birds and other animals. The consumption of mercury-laden fish by pregnant women has been associated with neurological and neurobehavioral effects in infants.
Also when oil and gas are extracted, water previously trapped within geologic formations is brought to the surface. This “produced water” can carry with it dissolved solids, heavy metals, hydrocarbons, and naturally occurring radioactive materials in quantities that make it unsuitable for human consumption and difficult to dispose of safely.
On the other hand, renewable energy generation doesn’t burn anything; therefore it easily omits the threat to the environment.
For A Better Economic Structure
Renewable energy sources impact the economy very positively, both on a global and local level. Renewable energy plants represent a great business opportunity for investors, even more so when the forms of support assured by governments encourage specific types of installation. Moreover, they contribute indirectly to the development of employment and the local economy. Careers like project development, construction, installation, operations, maintenance, transportation, logistics, financial, legal, and consulting services can flourish with shift towards renewable energy.
Renewable energy production guarantees good energy security. It is able to rapidly face increases in demand and is able to assure energy price stability. Several international studies have revealed great economic savings, especially by final consumers, thanks to different photovoltaic installations.
For public health and safety
Generating electricity from renewable energy rather than fossil fuels offers significant public health benefits. As we have already discussed about how fossil fuel based pollution is poisoning our land, air, and water, it is easy to understand what it does to our health every day. Renewable energy usage can considerably reduce breathing problems, premature mortality, neurological damage, heart attacks, and cancer from our surviving population.
Fortunately, countries are taking a keen interest in sustainable energy. And with increase in demand and technological growth, the costs have fallen dramatically in recent years, and continue to fall. In some countries solar energy is very close to reaching cost parity with conventionally generated energy. Increasingly, effective government policies support investor confidence and these markets are expanding.
Considerable progress is being made in the energy transition from fossil fuels to ecologically sustainable systems, and solar, biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric and wind power generation processes are being experimented to find the perfect answer for global energy requirement. In the search for perfect conventional energy replacement, solar is presenting numerous advantages that make it the best option.
- Solar PV modules are easy to install than most of other renewable energy choices.
- Solar PV modules are low maintenance, and can offer high performance level for more than 27 years (before needing any maintenance).
- Solar PV modules come in various sizes, which means your unique requirements can be easily met. For example: solar PV solutions can be used over residential roof tops, which is impossible for other renewable energy
- You can sell your power to the grid and earn.
- Government is offering upfront incentives to encourage solar energy installers, which saves you cash and makes you energy reliant.
- Solar installations can offer consistent performance in diverse range of weather conditions, whether it is rain, snow, or hot and humid.
For those who are still dubious about trusting sustainable energy, having a closer look at NASA’s space programs should convince them of sustainable energy’s benefits and trustworthiness, considering solar panels have been chosen to generate energy in the most perilous atmosphere (space) known to man.
Frankly, we owe it to this age of innovation, to take the right steps and shape the future. Since renewable energy, especially solar is showing all signs of capability to shoulder global energy requirements, we need to join hands and give a collective push to this technology to make our future bright and progressive.