The concerns linked to the continuous use of fossil fuels are complex. It accounts for almost 80% of the world’s energy production. What is irrefutable, however, is the world is looking to face the challenge to transition to renewable energy.
You can get a headache thinking about the total amount of energy needed to power the modern world, and it is almost impossible to get a clear picture of the sheer volume it requires. The growing energy consumption is not only contributing to the depletion of traditional energy sources but is also increasing pollution.
Now, there are calls from different sectors worldwide to address environmental and societal problems related to the continued use of fossil fuels. It is interesting to see governments, corporations, and individuals in their efforts to think green this time.
One key benefit of renewable energy - and the reason environmentalists advocate its use - is that it does not release greenhouse gases and other toxic pollutants, unlike the by-products of fossil fuel for energy.
Alternative energy sources
Renewable energy is referred to as energy coming from a source other than the regular fossil fuel sources like natural gas, oil, and coal. Renewable energy is not as widely used and is generally more environmentally sound. Several alternative energy sources include solar, biomass, wave and tidal energy, and wind.
Presently, we are highly reliant on fossil fuel and other non-renewable energy. This leads to immense harm to our environment and will likewise affect future generations tremendously.
Fossil fuels are non-renewable sources of power, thus it could eventually run out. Each time we use fossil fuels, they create carbon dioxide.
Scientists say that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas because it traps heat from the sun and restrains it from leaving the Earth’s atmosphere into space. In other words, the volume of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere is increasing. It contributes to rising Earth temperature which we call global warming.
Here are some of the more common sources of renewable energy.
1. Solar energy
We get solar energy from the sun’s rays. We can convert solar energy into electricity to heat water, or indoor spaces like homes, buildings, and greenhouses.
2. Wind energy
As the name suggests, wind energy is sourced from wind power coming from wind turbines. It does not cause pollution and needs little maintenance, though it may be expensive.
3. Biomass energy
This type of energy comes from animal and plant material. That includes animal manure, wood from trees, and waste from plants. It has plenty of benefits: producers of ethanol can use biomass, and it is also an alternative to petrol.
You may have already noticed that hydropower plants are situated near dams or waterfalls. Hydropower uses energy from water as it drops in elevation. While we have already been using water as an energy source for decades, we still have not maximized its full benefits.
5. Geothermal energy
Geothermal energy comes from underground heat that the earth is emitting.
All these alternative energy sources will help us become less reliant on fossil fuels.
Will 2021 be the year of clean energy?
Experts believe 2021 will be the year clean energy will make its presence felt. Here are the reasons why.
1. It is a smart investment
Renewable energy used to be more expensive than fossil fuels, but all that is changing. Clean energy is becoming cheaper each year, and some have become even more affordable than fossil fuels. Over the last decade, solar power’s price decreased by 89%.
Using solar power is now more cost-efficient than building new coal power plants. The UN Development Programme, or UNDP, says solar is the most affordable electricity in history.
Also, using renewables will create almost three times as many jobs as using fossil fuels.
2. More pledges to action
More countries have pledged to help heal the planet through sustainable energy. The U.S. has vowed to rejoin the Paris Agreement. Meanwhile, the European Union, Japan, China, the United Kingdom, and South Korea have made long-term net-zero commitments.
If these countries turn these pledges into concrete action, we might succeed in making this planet greener.
3. Recovery from COVID-19
The UN believes that clean energy is vital to COVID-19 recovery efforts because it can help improve healthcare for the poorer nations. Also, using clean energy will provide a steady supply of electricity.
Some COVID-19 vaccines have to be stored at -70 degrees Celsius. Giving power to the required equipment will be critical if we are to vaccinate each person in the world.
4. An increasing number of corporations aim to be 100% renewable
Google now aims to be 100% renewable by 2030, eliminating the need for fossil fuels. Being 100% renewable means that they have to consume more renewable energy than they are buying.
Google and other companies can achieve this goal by buying adequate clean energy that they can use annually.
We have been using fossil fuels as an energy source for decades simply because it is cheaper, but our energy supply is no longer safe nor sustainable. However, if we wish to get cleaner energy, we need to find more affordable alternatives.
We can choose to use renewable energy to lessen our negative impact on the earth’s environment. And, as we mentioned earlier, some alternatives are becoming more affordable.
Renewable energy sources give us an opportunity for a healthy future, one that our children and our children’s children will benefit from. We might even get a chance to enjoy a greener planet - if we act now instead of later.