7 Reasons Why America’s Future Relies On Renewable Energy Systems
Renewable energy comes in many forms such as solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric and biomass. All of these alternative energy sources provide cleaner solutions for the environment than fossil fuels. Here are the most important reasons why renewable energy will be necessary for America’s future.
1. Clean Energy Is a Healthier Choice
Ultimately, human health is a top concern driving the green energy movement. Fossil fuel emissions from coal and natural gas power plants can cause various health problems, such as cancer, respiratory issues, heart failure and neurological damage. Solar, wind and other eco-friendly energy solutions can help reduce death and illness related to the workplace, in which the impact on health costs is about 6 percent of GDP.
The truth is scientists do not know the complete list of consequences to human health due to the politics, funding and corporate interests that blur environmental studies. The fact that the health of future generations may be adversely impacted by environmental pollution caused by humans calls for urgent moves toward cleaner energy. Clearly, it has become a serious global issue, as the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris concluded with an agreement among 195 nations to work on reducing greenhouse emissions by emphasizing renewable energy.
2. New Infrastructure Will Create New Jobs
The transition to more eco-friendly systems can potentially create thousands of new jobs in every state. Even though renewable energy still only represents a small percentage of energy consumption in America, it is one of the fastest growing industries of the 21st century. The federal government is largely responsible for creating many of these new jobs of the past decade through grants. California, which has been the leading state in the solar revolution, added 20,000 solar jobs in 2015, according to the California Solar Jobs Census report released in early 2016. Meanwhile, conventional energy jobs have been declining in the state.
On a national level, solar energy jobs grew by over 35,000 by the end of 2015, bringing the total over 200,000, which was twice as much as 2011. Between 2012 and 2016 half the states doubled the number of solar workers, driven by solar installations. While the renewable energy industry still has a long way to go, its exponential growth the past decade is a strong indicator that job growth will continue as the federal government provides tax credits for installations and grants for large facilities.
3. Renewable Energy Is More Cost-Effective
One of the most practical advantages to renewable energy is that costs are continuously declining while fossil fuel production has been volatile. High energy bills from conventional utility companies can result from extreme weather conditions in the winter and summer months, whereas renewable energy costs are more stable. Oil prices, for example, can fluctuate radically due to oil industry production schedules.
By contrast, after solar equipment is paid for, consumers get free energy from the sun and possibly even a profit from net metering credits. Solar panels can now cut energy bills by a third. It’s now possible to see a return on investment a few years after installation. Some deals allow no money down combined with federal tax credits. Solar technology is also merging with electric vehicles that can run 200 miles on a single charge, which can be powered by home solar panels.
4. Less Drilling Means Less Environmental Damage
Certain studies on natural gas drilling known as fracking have revealed alarming results. The Yale School of Public Health, for example, published a study in January 2016 that observed over one thousand chemicals in fracking fluids and found that several chemicals were linked to reproductive and other health problems. The study was unable to evaluate the toxicity of most of the substances due to insufficient information. Researchers warned, however, that 157 of the substances such as arsenic, lead, formaldehyde, chorine and mercury are known to cause health consequences to humans.
Fracking is a process that involves drilling as deep as two miles into the earth’s surface while fracturing rock to release gas inside. While much more research needs to be conducted to draw definite conclusions, there has been a growing body of evidence that fracking contaminates drinking water while emitting greenhouse gases and potentially triggers small tremors. Currently, fracking has been a solution in the United States to lower energy costs, but it has also become very controversial to the point that New York State issued a ban on the practice in 2015.
5. More Efficiency Will Produce Less Waste
Solar and wind facilities do not contaminate water systems, unlike coal mining and natural gas drilling. Fracking is a process that creates large amounts of wastewater and even pollutes springs meant for drinking water. While fossil fuels are finite resources, energy from the sun is massively abundant on Earth. Even so, solar technology continues to become more efficient as it advances, with constant new innovations developing for energy storage. Furthermore, modern solar technology can even work in cloudy conditions.
One of the keys to cleaning up the environment will be recycling. Every industry can participate in recycling by shifting to renewable resources and spreading the word about sustainability to customers. Hydroponic farming, for example, is much more efficient than conventional farming since it uses less water, less space and no toxic pesticides, yet produces higher yields. In this ancient yet rediscovered type of farming, water is recycled as plants grow in water instead of soil.
6. Clean Energy Will Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The most prevalent greenhouse gases caused by industrialization are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. About a third of these emissions come from the production of electricity, in which over 65 percent comes from burning fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. Transportation emissions from petroleum-based cars, ships, trains and planes represent almost another third of all greenhouse gas emissions. The rest come from industrial, commercial and residential use, as well as agriculture.
Even though natural gas is cleaner than petroleum or coal, it still emits up to 2 pounds of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour. By comparison, solar, wind and geothermal each emit less than .2 pounds per kilowatt-hour while hydroelectric emits up to .5 pounds. Trends reported by the EPA show that U.S. greenhouse gas emissions reached a peak in 2007 with over 7 billion metric tons of CO2 equivalents emitted into the atmosphere. The EPA has a goal to reduce its carbon footprint by 25 percent by 2020. Many states have followed suit by setting future goals for increased renewable energy use.
7. People Will Become Better Educated About Nature
Learning about nature is something that benefits the entire human race. Understanding how electricity can be generated from natural processes without using destructive machinery will help inspire a deeper level of understanding about how to merge with instead of dominate nature. Environmental knowledge will lead to better agricultural conditions, healthier food and water and cleaner air. It will also help society reach a consciousness that the earth is the most valuable resource and something that everyone shares. Furthermore, a more diversified energy grid will be more reliable at reducing power failures.
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