Environmentally friendly energy sources and technologies are being sought out more and more everyday-and for good reason. Green energy technologies contain a wide range of benefits that go a lot farther than just saving the planet. From better energy reliability to the creation of jobs and more, we’ll show you just how “worth it” transferring to a more “green energy” focused infrastructure can be. But first, let’s take a look at what exactly green or eco-friendly energy is and its various forms or applications.
What Type of Energy Supplies the United States?
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the United States is supplied by various types of energy that can be placed into three different categories. These categories are:
- Green Power – Green power, as defined by the EPA represents the subset of renewable energy technologies and resources that provide the highest environmental benefit. The list of energy sources is currently made up of solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass and low-impact small hydroelectric sources.
- Renewable Energy – This list from the EPA includes “resources that restore themselves over short periods of time and do not diminish. This includes, sun, wind, moving water, organic plant and waste material (eligible biomass), and the earth’s heat (geothermal).” This does not mean that these technologies have no carbon footprint or environmental trade-offs. In addition to this list, if technology systems like Combined Heat and Power (CHP) or Cogeneration recycle biogas fuel, they would also be considered renewable energy sources.
- Conventional Power – This list of energy sources includes the combustion of fossil fuels, which includes coal, natural gas and oil along with, nuclear fission of uranium. These forms of energy are considered to have the highest environmental trade-offs due to extraction, drilling and mining techniques that cause air and water pollution. Alternatively, nuclear energy does not create greenhouse gases and has little to no environmental impact apart from the long term radioactive waste storage that can have negative impacts on the environment and human health.
Now that types of energy have been briefly clarified, let’s examine the multitude of benefits offered by green power and renewable energy.
Green Energy Reduces Global Warming
Obviously one of the best-known advantages of green power and renewable energy sources is their environmental benefits, which are significant to the future of the planet. One of the ways in which green energy positively affects the environment is by creating a system that produces less global warming. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), The activities of humans are overloading our atmosphere with greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide, that are causing global warming. When these gases are expelled into the atmosphere, they act like a blanket trapping in heat, which results in harmful impacts like drought, more frequent storms, sea levels rising,and species extinction.
In the U.S., 29% of global warming emissions comes from electricity production, mainly deriving from power plants that run off of coal and natural gas.
Renewable energy produces little to no global warming emissions. The UCS goes on to say that the comparison of conventional energy producers and green energy generators is clear when you see the numbers, “ Burning natural gas for electricity releases between 0.6 and 2 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt-hour (CO2E/kWh); coal emits between 1.4 and 3.6 pounds of CO2E/kWh. Wind, on the other hand, is responsible for only 0.02 to 0.04 pounds of CO2E/kWh on a life-cycle basis; solar 0.07 to 0.2; geothermal 0.1 to 0.2; and hydroelectric between 0.1 and 0.5.”
Green Energy is a Reliable Source of Energy
Green energy sources and renewable energy technologies have been proven to be more reliable than conventional energy production. Since green energy generators like wind and solar are spread out and made of many different units of equipment, a widespread “blackout” or “brownout” is less likely to occur. Similarly, CHP systems that use biogas to fuel their operations produce all the necessary energy and thermal energy on-site, creating little to no dependence on the grid.
In the past few years, dependence on fossil fuels has acutely increased, due to the rising populations and countries looking to create more modern infrastructures. However, while the need has increased the reliability of these fossil fuels has decreased, from blackouts, brownouts and foreign policy, fossil fuels are proving to be less reliable as time goes on.
Green Energy is Good for The Economy
“On average, more jobs are created for each unit of electricity generated from renewable sources than from fossil fuels.” The green power and renewable energy industry requires more labor intensive work than that of the current fossil fuel directed power plant infrastructure of the United States. For example, wind farms require technicians and solar panels need humans to install and maintain them.
As continual support for green energy generators continues to increase, renewable energy could create more than 200,000 jobs while producing the same base load of electricity as that of fossil fuels(in 2016, the entire coal industry only had 160,000 people employed).
It goes without saying, when more jobs are created, the economy of a towns and countries across a nation, thrives.
Green Energy Improves Public Health
In the process of reducing global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and water pollutants via green energy generators, we also directly impact the health of the public. According to the EPA, “ Americans spend approximately $361.7 to $886.5 billion every year on overall health of the population. A big chunk of this budget goes to mitigate and cure diseases related to fossils fuel use like heart diseases, cancer, and neurological disorders.”
Most of these diseases are caused from water and air pollutants. Green energy producers don’t produce these pollutants, thus switching over to green energy not only reduces these problems, but hopefully in the future, eliminates them entirely.
Green Energy is Inexhaustible & Renewable
Green energy as a subset of renewable energy, means exactly that- it’s resources are virtually endless and can be continually renewed. From solar power to geothermal energy expressed from a layer of molten magma below the Earth’s crust, renewable energy isn’t running out any time soon(if ever). For this reason, green energy generators seem like the wisest option as we move towards a future with more people demanding more energy.
This constantly replenishing supply of energy could be the solution to all of the world’s energy needs.