The Necessity of Renewable Energy Sources

Before I explore wind turbines in-depth, it is fundamental that I provide an overview of renewable energy and its importance in our world today.

So what exactly is renewable energy?

The term is thrown around frequently in discussions on green living, oil dependency, and climate change, but most people do not have a firm grasp on the concept. Renewable energy is a reliable energy source that includes solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower and tidal energy. Aside from geothermal and tidal energies, renewable energy sources are replenished constantly by sunlight. In contrast, nonrenewable sources of energy, such as coal and petroleum, necessitate costly explorations for their procurement and become more expensive as their supplies dwindle. Renewable energy also generates negligible levels of carbon emissions, rendering it a far better alternative than nonrenewable energy because it helps fight climate change instigated by fossil fuel usage (Moll).

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A illustration detailing the various types of renewable energy sources and their usage by country.

Environmentally-friendly

The impact of these clean sources of energy on the environment is much lower than conventional energy sources (Renewable Energy World.com). Coal mining and petroleum exploration and refinement produce solid toxic waste. Burning coal to produce electricity both discharges arsenic and lead into surface waters and releases carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides and mercury into the air. This kind of pollution causes illnesses and deaths in humans, produces acid rain, disrupts ecosystems, and attacks the ozone layer. While some the existence of climate change, there is strong consensus within the scientific community that climate change and global warming are indeed occurring and are the result of human production of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (Moll).

Reliable and Safe

In addition, renewable energy is more reliable and safe than other sources of energy. According the United States Energy Information Administration, our country imported roughly one million barrels of oil per day from Mexico and Saudi Arabia in 2010 (Chandler). Almost two million additional barrels were imported each day from Canada. As evidenced by the energy crises in 1973 and 1979, the price and accessibility of oil largely depends on political stability (Moll). It is clear that we cannot continue to depend on limited, monopolized energy resources. Renewable energy can be produced locally, decreasing its vulnerability to political upheavals. In regard to safety, occurrences like explosions on oil platforms and collapsed coal mines are not a concern when harvesting renewable energy (Moll).

Accessible

Unlike finite sources of energy that will someday be depleted, renewable energy will be accessible for generations to come (Renewable Energy World.com). Coal, natural gas, and oil reserves are limited resources that are buried deep underground or under the ocean. Finding these sources becomes increasingly difficult and harmful as more is harvested each day. Refining marginal reserves like oil sands into usable oil requires burning large amounts of natural gas. Drilling under the ocean floor can lead to disastrous outcomes, as demonstrated by the British Petroleum oil spill in 2010.

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A bird soaked in oil rests in the sand after the British Petroleum oil spill.

Beneficial to the Economy

Renewable energy sources positively affect the economy as well (Renewable Energy World.com). Because renewable energy production is more labor intensive than current fossil fuel energy production, more workers will be needed to meet demand for renewable energy (Murphy). As we invest in materials and workmanship to build and maintain renewable energy sources, we will create jobs and fuel local economies because renewable energy investments are often made in the same state and even the same town (Renewable Energy World.com). Not only that, but the use of renewable energy will also allow entire new industries to develop for the production of machinery, parts, and expertise (Murphy). Instead of importing costly sources of energy, we will be self-sufficient in energy production.

It is clear that renewable energy sources are more sustainable and offer many positive results. Accordingly, we must question the controversy surrounding their usage. Why are people opposed to alternatives that will benefit us economically and environmentally?

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Why wind?

In recent years, the environment has been a cause of major concern for citizens, advocacy groups, and the government. As the effects that industrialization has on climate change become more apparent, we are turning to alternative sources of energy. One such source, the wind, could provide us with a more sustainable form of power. Unfortunately, wind power has faced resistance from local communities that threatens to prevent us from utilizing this valuable source of energy.

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The wind turbine by my home in Hull, MA.

As someone who has grown up with wind turbines in my hometown and attends a university that participates in harnessing energy from the wind, I am surprised and disappointed by the reluctance to accept wind power. Through this blog, I hope to share the importance of wind power with you and dispel the logic behind the anti-wind movement.