America is beginning to embrace renewable energy at a staggering rate, with clean energy finally outpacing coal for the first time. Hydropower stations, solar panels, wind farms, and large-scale batteries are beginning to appear across the U.S. to decarbonize transportation networks and electricity. While some of the benefits may be obvious, there are many other advantages to this shift in mindset toward clean energy.
Many positive impacts of clean energy can be observed, including benefits from biomass, hydroelectric, geothermal, wind, and solar sources. These renewable energy options result in the following benefits:
Fast-moving water, heat from the ground, abundant plant waste and matter, sunny skies, and strong wings will provide a consistent replenishment energy supply. While a small fraction of electricity in the U.S. is sourced from these resources, this is changing. According to the Solar America Initiative, renewable energy can offer a considerable share of future electricity requirements, even when accounting for constraints.
Improved Public Health
The water and air pollution emitted by natural gas and coal plants have a direct medical link with premature death, cancer, heart attacks, neurological damage, and a variety of other issues. The pollution impacts everyone in some manner and produces public health effects in the 10’s of billions of dollars.
Most of these negative effects come from water and air pollution that clean energy doesn’t produce. Hydroelectric, solar, and wind systems generate electricity without any air pollution emissions. Biomass and geothermal emit some air pollution, but total air emissions are considerably lower than natural gas and coal plants.
Less Global Warming
Human activity is constantly polluting the atmosphere with carbon dioxide and other harmful global warming emissions. These gasses become a blanket that traps heat resulting in stronger and more frequent storms, a rise in the sea level, droughts, and eventually extinction.
Compared to fossil fuels, which are capital intensive and mechanized, the renewable energy sector is more labor-intensive. Wind farms need technicians to perform maintenance and solar panels require human installation. This means that more jobs are created for every unit of electricity generated by renewable sources compared to fossil fuels.
In 2016, the solar industry employed over 260,000 individuals in jobs ranging from sales to manufacturing and solar installation. As demand for solar technology continues to grow, the number of jobs will grow along with it.
Stable Energy Prices
Renewable energy offers affordable electricity around the U.S. and can help stabilize prices in the future. Although renewable energy plants and equipment require initial investments to construct, they operate at low costs with the “fuel” being offered by the Earth for free. The Solar America Initiative notes that the result is consistent and stable prices over time.
Additionally, the cost of these technologies continues to decrease, and experts predict a future drop. As markets mature and companies begin to adopt the technology prices will experience economies of scale, so the facilities will be more cost-effective.
These benefits and many more presented by the Solar America Initiative prove why obtaining energy from renewable can help limit the number of pollutants humans added to the air, ground, and water. Everyone can do their part by supporting clean energy!