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Feb 19

Can Solar and Wind Energy Really Be Replaced?

There is a heated debate going on for a long time now; one that our daily lives largely depend on.

Our source of energy for everyday living, fossil fuels such as natural gases, petroleum, oil, and coal, are originally formed from animals and plants that lived billions of years ago that became buried deep under the Earth’s surface and transformed into combustible materials.

Nowadays, humans are overly dependent on this source of energy to heat their homes, run their cars, power their industries and offices and respond to their insatiable greed to power all electrical materials. In fact, 80% of our global energy all comes from fossil fuel burning. At this rate, fossil fuel will not have the ability to replenish itself fast enough and will not be able to meet our growing demands.

And so many analysts insist that that day will come; that dramatic, life-changing moment when fossil fuels will pass the baton to renewable energy sources such as geothermal, solar, wind, and others that are still in development as the primary source of world energy.

While the debate continues of whether renewable energy sources are reliable enough to take fossil fuels’ long-standing responsibility, another question is being thrown out in the equation: In case, renewable resources are not that effective, can they be replaced?

But before answering that, here are some good reasons as to why renewable energy can handle our energy needs:

  • Infinite Energy Source

Sunny skies, strong winds, earth’s heat, abundant plant matter, fast-moving waters and more with fast replenishing abilities are the main source of renewable energy. So as long as we have these, then our source of energy will never be empty.

  • Cheaper

Solar, wind and other types of renewable energy are becoming the cheapest source of new electricity. Its costs have declined profoundly. Since 2009, according to IRENA, there is a drop of 18% in the price of onshore wind electricity with turbine costs dropping to nearly 30% last 2008, that makes it the cheapest electricity source in a vast, growing market range.

The speed of cost decline for solar energy has been even more dramatic. Since 2008, prices of solar photovoltaic (PV) have dropped by 80%  and are predicted to keep dropping. Without any subsidies, solar power can now compete increasingly with conventional energy.

  • Less Global Warming

Our daily activities fill our atmosphere with CO2 and other global warming emissions. Acting like a blanket, these gases trap heat which leads to harmful and significant impacts from more frequent and stronger storms to sea level rise drought and even extinction.

About 29% of global warming emissions in the United States come from electricity sector and its source are mostly burning fossil fuels such as coal and natural gases. Renewable energy, on the other hand, produces little to no global warming emissions even if you include the “life cycle” emissions of clean energy, global warming emissions related to renewable sources are minimal.

It is clear that increasing renewable energy supply can allow us to replace energy sources that are carbon-intensive and dramatically reduce the global warming emissions.

  • Improved public health

Coal and natural gas plants are the main cause of water and air pollution that is linked to many health problems like premature death, cancer, heart attacks, neurological damage, breathing problems and more serious problems.

Most of these serious health problems come from water and air that is simply not produced by clean energy technologies. Solar, wind, and hydroelectric systems produce electricity with no related air pollution emissions. Biomass and geothermal systems do emit few air pollutants; however, its total pollution emissions are much lower than those natural gas and coal-fired power plants.

Moreover, solar and wind energy does not need water in order to operate. Thus, these energy sources do not pollute water sources or pull supplies by competing with important water needs like drinking water and agriculture needs. Fossil fuels, on the other hand, significantly impact the water sources. Both natural gas drilling and coal mining can instantly pollute drinking water and every thermal power plants like those powered by oil, gas, and coal, collect and consume water for cooling.

However, there is no such thing as perfect technology. Even though renewable energy can really help us in numerous ways that fossil fuels can’t, there are still questions that are being thrown on it.

One argument is can renewable energy generate the large quantity of electricity that fossil fuel generators can? Many analysts argue that if renewable sources will be the main source of energy then we might need to reduce the amounts of energy that we are using or building more facilities in order to accommodate the standard needs of people.

One more issue is how reliable is this energy source. Renewable energy often depends on the weather for its power source and the weather can be very inconsistent and unpredictable. Solar collectors need the strong sun and clear skies in order to collect heat and make electricity; wind turbines need the power of wind in order to turn the blades; Hydro generators need the rain in order to fill dams to supply water. What if it’s a stormy day where no sun comes out or sunny day without any wind or it’s the summer season where not a single drop of rain is available? When these resources become unavailable, so is the energy that comes from them.

 

Conclusion:

Wind energy, solar power, and other renewable sources are now being used in different countries. However, there is still no definite evidence that it can replace our long-standing source of energy which is fossil fuel. Which comes to the point, can solar and wind energy be replaced? No. Why should it be replaced when it is not still accepted worldwide? And in case it does replace our traditional energy source and found ineffective, why replace it with other technology, when we can simply go back to our original source, right?

 

Author Bio: John Smith is a environmental writer and loves sharing his views on latest trends on sustainability. He also works for a site http://nupower.co.za/ offering solar energy products in South Africa.

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