March 21st is National Renewable Energy Day. Renewable energy is a form of clean energy provided by the natural resources present in nature. The main forms of renewable energy are solar, wind, hydropower, biofuel and geothermal and unlike fossil fuels, they do not emit harmful greenhouse gases! As the world’s population continues to grow upward toward nine billion people by 2050, the world’s energy demands will also increase proportionately. If we were to burn the remainder of all of our fossil fuel reserves, there would be severely negative environmental, social and economic impacts.
Thus, our large dependence on fossil fuels (oil, coal, and natural gas) for energy is entirely unsustainable. Not only are our fossil reserves depleting and posing concerns for future energy needs, but the burning of these fossil fuels for energy is driving climate change and deteriorating the health of our planet. The best solution to decrease our dependence on limited fossil reserves, curb harmful carbon dioxide emissions, and secure energy needs for all the world’s future populations, is to divert from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.
Non-polluting, renewable and efficient energy sources, such as sun, wind and water, not only help reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but they also add a much-needed flexibility to our energy resource mix. “There’s more than enough renewable energy sources to supply all of the world’s energy needs forever, however, the challenge is to develop the capability to effectively and economically capture, store and use the energy when needed” (Ecology.com).
The development of renewable energy technologies has grown substantially over the past decade and countries across the globe are increasing their share of renewables in energy production. The map above shows the percentage of renewables used in electricity production for each country. According to Enerdata, in 2015, Norway, New Zealand and Brazil were the three global leaders with 98%, 79%, and 73.4% (respectively) of all electricity production from renewables!
Although renewable energy development is expected to continue to grow rapidly over the next decade, renewable energy technologies still have a long way to go to replace oil, coal and natural gas as our primary sources of energy. Some of the most effective ways to promote the research and development of renewable energy technologies are through proper policies, incentive mechanisms, and mutual international cooperation, such as the agreement reached by the 195 countries participating in the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) to reduce emissions that would limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celcius. The number one way to achieve this goal is to divert from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources!
Written by Kathleen Emerson (3/22/2016).