The primary sources of renewable energy in the past have been human labor, animal power, and water. Wind, grain crushing windmills, and firewood have also been used for centuries. But, these traditional sources of energy are not as abundant as they once were. Today, advances in energy capture and storage have made it possible to create large-scale renewable energy facilities. It is time to shift away from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy for our future.
Renewable energy is becoming more affordable and more readily available as a result of a sweeping tax credit. For example, a production tax credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour (C/kWh) is available to those who install and use these technologies in their homes or businesses. These credits reduce installation costs and shorten payback time for qualifying technologies. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 extended the credit by three years, delaying it for two years in 2020, and phase it out for 10 percent in 2024. Moreover, several states have added incentives.
The oldest source of renewable energy is hydropower. Hydroelectricity is used in all U.S. states. Hydroelectric power plants use the mechanical energy of flowing water to turn turbines to produce electricity. Another form of renewable energy is geothermal energy, which is derived from the heat generated deep inside the Earth’s core. Geothermal energy is useful for electricity production and heating. So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of using renewable energy?
As a consequence of falling costs, renewable energy is currently the cheapest power option in most parts of the world. Compared to fossil fuels, renewable sources are cheap and plentiful. For example, the cost of solar and wind power has decreased by 85 percent between 2010 and 2020, and the cost of offshore wind energy by 48 percent. This has made renewable energy more attractive, especially in low-income countries. It also provides a means of generating electricity without the burden of carbon emissions.
While hydropower is a valuable resource, it is also unattractive and noisy. In addition to causing noise, it is also potentially harmful to wildlife. Wind farms are an environmental problem, and hundreds of thousands of bats and birds die each year because of them. However, researchers are continually working to improve wind turbines to reduce their environmental impact. They are the third most common renewable energy source in the U.S. After solar, hydropower is the most common form of power generation, accounting for nearly 6% of global electricity in 2020.
While a major source of renewable energy, biomass is an important component of the industrial sector. In fact, biofuels account for 31 percent of the nation’s total energy. But the renewable fuel standard is more ambitious, requiring utilities to produce 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2022. By 2050, this would represent seven percent of the country’s gasoline consumption. That goal is a step toward reducing carbon emissions. While there are many hurdles to renewable energy development, the benefits far outweigh the costs.
In addition to producing clean and affordable electricity, renewable energy also helps communities and countries combat climate change. By incorporating integrated visions throughout the value chain, these sources reinforce the sustainability and commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. By integrating renewables into our energy system, we are contributing to the smartness, security, and integration of our electricity grid. We are seeing an unprecedented growth of renewable energy, but how will we make the transition? A green economy is key to a prosperous future.
In the United States, wind energy currently accounts for nine percent of electricity production and has the potential to become one of the most cost-effective sources. States such as Texas and California lead the way for wind power and account for nearly a quarter of the nation’s total installed capacity. Wind power has already surpassed hydropower as the largest renewable energy source in the country. By 2020, wind energy will generate about eight percent of the country’s electricity.
Biomass is the third largest source of renewable energy in Canada, but its contribution is only 1.4 per cent. Solar and wind energy are among the fastest-growing sources of electricity in Canada. In addition, Canada’s vast landmass, diverse geography, and plentiful renewable resources make it a leading producer of renewable energy. Renewable energy resources account for approximately eighteen per cent of Canada’s primary energy supply. However, as with any other renewable resource, there are risks associated with using these resources.