Renewable energy is a hot topic in today's world, as we strive to find sustainable solutions to power our planet. Unlike coal and oil energy, renewable energy is sourced from naturally replenishing resources such as sunlight, wind, and water. Not only is renewable energy more environmentally friendly - but it can also save us money and improve our energy security in the long run. In this article, we'll explore five interesting facts about renewable energy that will shed light on the benefits and possibilities of this growing industry.
Fact #1: Renewable energy is the fastest-growing source of energy
Renewable energy is the fastest-growing source of energy in the world. According to the International Energy Agency, renewable energy capacity increased by 45% between 2010 and 2020 (IEA, 2021a). This represents an enormous shift towards a cleaner, more sustainable energy future. One of the key factors driving the growth of renewable energy is the falling cost of renewable energy technologies. This has become increasingly cost-competitive with traditional fossil fuels.
In contrast, non-renewable energy sources such as coal, oil, and natural gas are struggling to keep pace with the growth of renewable energy. In fact, according to the IEA, coal consumption declined by 5% in 2020, the largest decline since WWII (IEA, 2021b). This shift away from non-renewable energy sources is driven by a combination of factors, including environmental concerns, government policies, and changing consumer preferences.
Statistical evidence supports the fact that renewable energy is the fastest-growing source of energy. Between 2022-27, renewable energy is expected to account for 75% of all new power capacity additions globally. At present, renewable energy now accounts for more than one-third of global power generation capacity (IEA, 2022).
Fact #2: Renewable energy can save money in the long run
While the initial investment in renewable energy sources like solar panels or wind turbines may seem pricey, they can save you money in the long run. Here's why:
Once you've installed a renewable energy system, you can generate your own electricity for free! That means you'll save money on your electricity bills every month. In fact, homeowners who install solar panels can save an average of $1,500 per year on their electricity bills (Reudig, 2022). And businesses that switch to renewable energy can save even more.
Also, renewable energy systems require less maintenance than traditional fossil fuel-based energy systems. They don't have moving parts that can break down, and they don't need frequent oil changes or other maintenance tasks. That means you'll save money on maintenance costs over time.
Fact #3: Renewable energy can improve energy security
Renewable energy can help a country have enough energy that is reliable and affordable. Here's how it works:
First, renewable energy like solar and wind can be made and used nearby. This means they don't need to travel long distances to reach homes and businesses. This is good because it makes a country less dependent on getting energy from other places.
Second, renewable energy comes from lots of different sources. Unlike fossil fuels, which come from one place like oil or coal, renewable energy can come from many places like wind, sun, and water. This is important because if one energy source is not available, there are other sources to choose from.
Third, many countries have already improved their energy security by using renewable energy. Denmark, for example, now gets 50% of its energy from wind and solar power (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. (n.d.). Germany is another country that has shifted to using more renewable energy like solar and wind power to keep their energy supply safe and reliable (ITA, 2022).
Fact #4: Renewable energy creates more jobs than fossil fuels
Renewable energy is not only good for the environment and can improve energy security, but it also creates more jobs than fossil fuels. Here's how:
The renewable energy sector is growing rapidly, and with that comes new job opportunities. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, the renewable energy sector employed 12 million people worldwide in 2020 (IRENA, 2021). In contrast, the coal industry employs just 4.6 million people worldwide (The World Bank, 2022). This is because renewable energy projects require more labor-intensive work, such as installing solar panels or wind turbines, compared to the largely automated processes involved in extracting and processing fossil fuels.
Fact #5: Solar power has the potential to become the world's top power source
Solar power is becoming an increasingly popular source of renewable energy, and it has the potential to become the world's top power source in the future. The cost of solar power has dropped significantly in recent years. According to the IRENA (2020), the cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) modules has fallen by 90% since the early 2000s. This has made solar power more affordable and accessible to households and businesses around the world.
Second, the growth of solar power has been impressive. In 2021 alone, the world added 290 gigawatts of new solar power capacity, according to the IEA (IEA, 2021c). This is more than double the amount of new coal and gas-fired power capacity added in the same year.
Lastly, solar power has the potential to provide a significant portion of the world's energy needs. A study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that solar energy could provide up to 45% of US electricity by 2050 (Dreves, 2022).
Dreves, H. (2022). Growing plants, power, and partnerships through agrivoltaics. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. https://www.nrel.gov/news/program/2022/growing-plants-power-and-partnerships.html
IEA. (2021a). Renewables are stronger than ever as they power through the pandemic. International Energy Agency. https://www.iea.org/news/renewables-are-stronger-than-ever-as-they-power-through-the-pandemic
IEA. (2021b). Coal demand experienced a major decline in 2020. International Energy Agency. https://www.iea.org/reports/global-energy-review-2021/coal
IEA. (2021c). Improved policies and COP26 climate goals are set to propel renewable electricity growth to new heights. International Energy Agency. https://www.iea.org/reports/renewables-2021/executive-summary
IEA. (2022). The global energy crisis is pushing the accelerator on renewable energy expansion. International Energy Agency.https://www.iea.org/reports/renewables-2022/renewable-electricity
IRENA. (2020). Power generation costs. International Renewable Energy Agency. https://www.irena.org/Energy-Transition/Technology/Power-generation-costs
IRENA. (2021). Renewable energy jobs reach 12 million globally. International Renewable Energy Agency. https://www.irena.org/News/pressreleases/2021/Oct/Renewable-Energy-Jobs-Reach-12-Million-Globally
ITA. (2022). Germany - country commercial guide. International Trade Administration. https://www.trade.gov/country-commercial-guides/germany-energy
Reudig, A. (2022, Nov. 25). How much do solar panels save? average cost and energy savings. Greenlancer. https://www.greenlancer.com/post/how-much-do-solar-panels-save
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. (n.d.). Pioneers in clean energy. Denmark.dk. https://denmark.dk/innovation-and-design/clean-energy
The World Bank. (2022). Global perspective on coal jobs and managing labor transition out of coal. https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/extractiveindustries/publication/global-perspective-on-coal-jobs-and-managing-labor-transition-out-of-coal#:~:text=Africa%2C%20and%20India.-,It%20also%20draws%20lessons%20from%20past%20transitions%20in%20Poland%20and,already%20experienced%20extensive%20mine%20closures.%22&text=Though%20the%20number%20of%20coal,indirect%20jobs%20across%20economic%20sectors.
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