The world’s leading climate scientists have been issuing warnings at an unprecedented rate. Climate change is getting beyond our control, and the planet is ailing in the process. If the current rates of climate change continue, there likely will be major catastrophes in the next 100 years. Although most of us won’t be alive around that time, our children and grandchildren will! That’s the clear reasoning that should motivate ordinary people to advocate for green energy. In this post, we examine how renewable energy can save our planet.
Obviously, nuclear power hasn’t changed much over the last few decades. Nuclear capacity is indeed declining on a global scale. Developed countries find increasing obstacles (financial, viability, etc.) against establishing new nuclear power plant. Also, CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) isn’t really breaking the mold either. A study carried out in 2007 highlights multiple practical challenges against the commercial investment in CCS. Nonetheless, this is not to mean that our planet is headed in the right direction. Carbon emissions still stand at a record high.
Breakthrough in Renewable Energy
Recent breakthroughs in renewable energy are major news. Within just a couple of years, wind and solar energy technologies have advanced to become highly competitive, and widespread. This new form of energy is reshaping the usual perceptions of climate change mitigation. Rather than stick to the rigid ‘saving the planet is too costly and too difficult’, major stakeholders are now starting to think along the lines of ‘we can do this!’ According to the IPCC, renewable energy is gradually set to outcompete fossil fuels. Renewable energy has greatly matured to enable deployment at a huge scale. Below are some quick facts that demonstrate this:
- There’s 15 times more solar energy today compared to 2007 – today, solar energy has increased by up to 15 times as compared to the situation in 2007. Likewise, use of wind energy has tripled in just the same span of time. This highlights the growing popularity of green energy across multiple countries around the globe.
- The cost of green energy has decreased dramatically – the cost of both solar and wind energy has declined profoundly over the last few decades. The price of onshore wind electricity has shrank by 18% since 2009. Turbine costs have gone down by up to 30%. Effectively, this makes wind energy the cheapest source of electricity in a growing range of markets.
- Renewable is the new mainstream – in non-OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, conventional energy still dominates. But in OECD countries, 80% of new energy generation added between now and 2020 is expected to be green/renewable. Also, countries such as China are taking action to limit coal use and promote the use of green energy.
- More countries joining the green energy bandwagon – more and more nations are joining the green energy bandwagon. These include the likes of Spain, Denmark, South Australia and the Philippines. India has also contributed significantly, with the state of Tamil Nadu already deriving 13% of its total energy from wind. In the United States, Iowa and South Dakota were already producing up to a quarter of their total electricity from wind.
- Renewable energy makes up 22% of the world’s electricity – renewable energy now makes up nearly a quarter (currently stands at 22%) of the world’s total electricity. It’s estimated that by 2030, wind energy alone could make up a quarter of the total electricity.
- Renewable energy can be deployed very fast – in 2013, China installed as much wind energy as the rest of the world combined. By 2018, the country aims to triple its solar capacity and double its wind capacity. Japan managed to install 11 GW of solar energy in just 2 years. In the United States, massive solar panels have been installed over the last decade. This rapid growth rate and seemingly easier deployment paint green energy in positive light, thus promoting its adoption.
The message is clear – green energy is how we save our planet. Governments, major companies, and other energy stakeholders just have to decide whether they want to be stuck in the dark ages of fossil fuels, or bask in the sun and wind of a clean, environmentally friendly future!