“Renewable energy” is a blanket term for various energy technologies from sources that are never-ending and can be replenished. Some examples are wind, solar, water, and geothermal. These are in contrast to fossil fuels such as oil and coal, which are popular sources of energy in large parts of the world, yet are also ultimately unsustainable. While this is in itself a great case for renewable energy, like anything, it’s an issue with its fair share of pros and cons, although the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. I recently read an article that looked at this exact same issue. Let’s look at the cons they pointed out, and then the pros:
- Its capacity still isn’t large enough: Fossil fuels still generate the vast majority of electricity today, so renewable energy can’t be solely relied upon to power the entire country overnight. Facilities will need to be set up to meet growing demand while looking for ways to reduce energy consumption.
- It can be unreliable: Renewable energy depends on the weather, so if conditions aren’t ideal, then renewable technologies couldn’t generate any electricity. Yet if renewable energy generators are set up over a wide area, then that can be fixed, since weather disruptions in one area will be different than those in another.
- It has low-efficiency levels: Since they’re still pretty new to the market, renewable energy technologies lack plenty of efficiency, posing forecast problems that could lead investors to shying away from investing their money.
- It requires huge upfront capital outlay: Investors shying away from investing in capital is particularly pressing, since renewable energy facilities, while lucrative, are also extremely expensive to set up. Wind turbines, solar panels, and hydroelectricity plants are all relatively expensive.
- It’s eco-friendly: Unlike fossil fuels, renewable energy has next to no carbon and greenhouse gas emission. Solar and wind power emit zero toxic gasses, cutting back dramatically on air pollution.
- It’s renewable: Fossil fuels are ultimately limited resources, and they could run out in the future. Renewable energy, being renewable, can help developing countries avoid over-reliance on fossil fuels. Powerful winds, heat from underneath the earth, sunshine, and moving water all offer steady energy supplies.
- It’s reliable: Over-reliance on fossil fuels has led to world security being threatened; they’re prone to trade disputes, political instability, spikes in prices, and war. Solar and wind energy are often seen as unreliable, yet that’s easily remedied by a solid infrastructure.
- It creates jobs: Renewable energy is cheaper than most traditional sources of energy, and has already helped create jobs in countries such as Germany and the UK, where renewable energy has been encouraged.
- It stabilizes prices: Since the cost of renewable energy depends on the initial cost of installation of renewable energy technologies as opposed to inflation and availability, it helps stabilize global energy prices.
- It requires less maintenance: Once infrastructure is laid down, little to no maintenance is required, meaning that the owners of facilities can reap big profits while providing cheap electricity.
- It boosts public health: Fossil fuel emissions are directly responsible for various ailments, such as heart disease, cancer, and neurological disorders.
It empowers people in rural areas: Renewable energy generation mainly takes place in more rural settings, not only offering new sources of energy to those regions, but also helping socially and economically regenerate them.