♠ Renewable sources of energy & nonrenewable sources
Sun, wind, and water. They abound on planet Earth. In an age where the negative impact of human activity on the environment is becoming tragically evident—and given the environmental, sociopolitical and economic complications surrounding most nonrenewable resources—it is more urgent than ever to own our actions and try to change the energetic paradigms of society for sustainability’s sake. The current economic, political and social landscape provides the right moment to make this change.
With the advent of the concept of sustainability, the idea of using natural resources to meet the needs of the present without compromising the needs of the future has permeated the zeitgeist in the most advanced nations. However, the way in which this concept is applied does not always have an effect on the preservation of natural resources. Sustainability must be able to integrate social, energy, economic and environmental factors. One of the best mechanisms to guarantee this macrointegration is the use of renewable energy sources that have little or no harmful impact on the environment.
♠ Why are renewable sources of energy better than nonrenewable sources?
The prime advantage is an obvious and simple one: one is finite while the other is infinite. But there are several factors that make renewable sources of energy increasingly more suitable and advantageous than the opposite option. Below you’ll find an overview of the main factors weighting in favor of renewable energy sources today. But first, a memory refresh on the ugly reality of nonrenewable energy resources.
♠ The nonrenewable energy wasteland.
Despite the changing tides, the main source of energy today is still petroleum, and owing to emerging economies like Brazil, India and China, its consumption will continue to speed up. Besides being a major contributor to the greenhouse effect, petroleum is one of the major causes of wars and conflicts between countries, especially those relying heavily on this resource. Furthermore, the fierce competition for this resource has turned it into a commodity negotiated in global markets where highly volatile interest rates often create tremendous sociopolitical instability, energetic vulnerability and economic downturn in major oil producing and/or importing countries. This affects your daily life in things such as the price you pay for a bus ticket or the price of gasoline.
The scenario for other nonrenewable energy sources isn’t much better. Other fossil fuels and nuclear energy have their own share of environmental hazards and economic and political controversies. Fortunately, they won’t last forever. So the change to renewable and clean alternatives is a natural step.
♠ What are the benefits of renewable energy resources?
The use of renewable energy is an important economic advantage because the use of more abundant resources for the production of energy favors the preservation of the environment and becomes much less costly over time. No matter how high the demand for ecologically acceptable substitutes for fossil fuels may become, there is no risk of political instability or conflicts over virtually infinite and easily reusable resources. The economic opportunity for renewable energy is also accentuated by the notion of declining nonrenewable resources.
But investing in renewable energies can also be profitable at a personal level. Although the initial investment needed to install and adapt infrastructures for renewable energy is relatively high, it does pay in a few years. In the case of solar energy, for example, you could install panels on your home or terrain and see a solid return of the initial costs over time. Furthermore, if the energy generated is higher than the demand, it is possible to share the excess with the electrical grid, obtaining benefits from electricity operators (the companies that produce and distribute energy). The maintenance of the photovoltaic panels is practically nonexistent and very cheap. Looking even further, you could be looking at the possibility of becoming energetically self-sufficient since solar energy technology undergoes continuous refinement to achieve higher efficiency.
⇒ More sustainability means more sociopolitical stability
Urban and industrial growth increases energy demand, which creates uncertainty and unsettledness about the future in societies that largely depend on nonrenewable resources. In this context, the deployment and use of renewable energy promotes safety and contributes to social and economic development, while providing universal access to energy and reducing harmful effects on the environment and health. Renewable energies offer the possibility of sustainable development through economic stability, social equity and environmental protection. This is the most relevant argument for renewable energy, long-term sustainability and stability on all levels.
⇒ Environment – Curbing climate change
Renewable and clean energies are crucial mitigating factors of climate change caused by air pollution. Greenhouse emissions are increasing substantially, causing climatic changes that affect the planet in a general and unequivocal way. The exclusive use of renewable energy would help to reduce the concentration of polluting gases in the atmosphere in the long-term, making it an important factor to control the greenhouse effect and the preservation of the natural resources. Additionally, by decentralizing production, the environmental cost with the distribution of energy is also greatly diminished. An unadulterated natural landscape is important to safeguard the survival of the fauna and flora.
⇒ Positive image with society
Social traction is an essential to change the energetic paradigms of whole societies. Fortunately, populations are increasingly aware and concerned about the impact of human activity on the planet. And this is why companies that invest in eco-friendly solutions are seen in good light by consumers, and may even receive governmental rewards and/or incentives. If you own a business, showing that you are conscientious about the environment has a very positive impact on your business reputation.
¤ Conclusion: Still a long way to go:
A number of nations around the world are investing in large projects that use renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, hydrogen, tidal, and some alternative fuels. But despite its importance, the use of renewable energy is not yet fully effective owing to the lack of adequate implementation policies in many developing (and some developed) countries. A persistent delay could allow greenhouse gases to irreversibly rise to compromising levels, not to mention the worsening of the sociopolitical and economic complications of nonrenewable energies. Therefore, it is vital that governments truly commit to sustainable decisions, speeding up the adoption of these green energies, and helping safeguard the present and the future of our species.