The debate rages on: Can renewable energy sources replace fossil fuels? The answer is yes, at least in some parts of the world—but we are not there yet.
Renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, tidal and geothermal, have made great strides in recent years and are now a significant part of the world’s power supply.
However, renewable energy still accounts for only 17 percent of global electricity generation, according to the International Energy Agency.
With the world’s population growing ever larger and the demand for energy increasing, the fossil fuel industry is booming despite the potentially devastating effects it has on the environment.
Approximately 70% of the world’s energy is produced by burning fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are non-renewable, meaning they are only present in limited quantities.
Setting the Record Straight About Renewable Energy
A lot of people, when they talk about energy, talk about sustainable energy. This is an important thing to talk about, since we do need to find an alternative to fossil fuels.
However, we should not get confused and think that sustainable energy will immediately replace fossil fuels. In fact, the two are often used as alternatives, and one is not better or worse than the other.
The media is full of stories saying that we can’t solve climate change without moving to 100% renewable energy.
But the reality is that the renewable energy sources we have today, and even those in the R&D pipeline, cannot replace fossil fuels. At best, they are a Band-Aid. Solutions that might someday replace fossil fuels don’t exist today.
We need to keep working on renewable energy. But we also need to stay focused on the real solutions—innovative technologies that can actually replace the fossil fuels we dig up and burn.
Renewables replace fossil fuel energy on the grid.
Renewable energy is one of the few things in which the government has taken a proactive stance. It is also one of the few things that people have actively supported.
The result is that in many countries, clean energy is growing at a faster rate than ever before.
However, it still has to compete with the established fossil fuel industry. So, renewable energy is right on the edge of making a major dent in the fossil fuel industry. Can it really replace fossil fuels?
In the last decade, it has become increasingly clear that to mitigate climate change and meet the demands of a growing population, the world must transition to a sustainable energy supply.
The key to doing this is to transition from our current energy supply, which is primarily made up of fossil fuels, to one that consists of a mix of renewable energy sources—namely, wind, solar, geothermal, and hydroelectric—that are clean and sustainable.
2. Clean energy has created millions of jobs – and can create more.
The renewable energy industry offers many reasons to be optimistic. Since the early 1980s, the number of people employed in the renewable energy sector has grown from about 3,000 to more than 3.5 million worldwide, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
Today, more than 300,000 Americans work in jobs related to the production and installation of solar panels, and the number of wind turbine technicians has more than tripled since 2000, with 80 percent of them now employed in the U.S., according to the American Wind Energy Association.
There’s a lot of good news about clean energy today: it’s growing fast and creating millions of jobs, and it can help us reduce pollution and slow the pace of climate change. But not everyone knows about it.
In fact, according to a recent poll, many people still think that fossil fuels are the best way to create jobs. That’s why it’s so important to spread the word and shine a light on the facts about clean energy.
3. Wind and solar plants can be built with minimal environmental impacts, and often with co-benefits.
Technologies like wind and solar are often criticized for being too expensive and not able to scale up quickly enough. But what if there were also environmental benefits to renewable energy?
Not only could wind and solar energy help us address climate change, but they could also help us clean up the air and water, and curb emissions of pollutants that cause asthma and other health problems.
Wind and solar plants can be built with minimal environmental impacts, and often with co-benefits can create more can sustainable energy replace fossil fuels. These technologies are the ultimate in renewable and sustainable energy.
It is true that some environmentalists who are against fossil fuels are against all energy production from all sources. But, as wind and solar become increasingly more efficient and cost-competitive, it is clear that sustainable energy is the future.
Comparing Renewable Energy with Fossil Fuels
Comparing Renewable Energy with Fossil Fuels can create more can sustainable energy replace fossil fuels, Fossil fuels are the cheap energy resources that can be used to power our vehicles and generate electricity.
The energy produced by burning fossil fuels is called non-renewable energy source because it takes millions of years to produce and regenerate fossil fuels. Currently, fossil fuels provide more than 80 percent of the energy consumed worldwide.
Fossil fuels, such as oil, coal, and natural gas, are non-renewable resources that we extract from the earth. When we use these fuels, they are gone.
We can’t get them back. As fossil fuels are depleted, the world will have to rely on renewable energy resources to power our homes. But, can solar, wind, and geothermal energy sources replace fossil fuels in the future?
Renewable energy is growing fast in the U.S., but fossil fuels still dominate
Renewable energy is growing quickly in the U.S., and it is now the second-largest source of electricity generation in the country, after fossil fuels.
In the past ten years, solar, wind, and other renewable sources have more than doubled, while fossil fuels have decreased slightly. However, renewable energy still only makes up about a quarter of our total energy usage, and over half of that comes from hydroelectric power—a form of energy that’s hard to scale up, and environmentally problematic.
So, although we’re making progress, the fact is that renewable energy can’t yet replace fossil fuels, and some say that it never will.
While the U.S. is far from its goal of getting 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy, solar and wind energy are growing fast and are starting to replace fossil fuels. In fact, the U.S. might hit the 100 percent mark by 2035.
But the U.S. isn’t the only country investing in renewable energy. Several developing countries are investing heavily in clean energy sources, too. For example, African countries are working on large solar farms to cut their electricity costs and reliance on fossil fuels.
Most of the energy we use today, and we use a lot of it–comes from burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas. While these fuels are relatively easy to get out of the ground, they are also very dirty. Burning fossil fuels produces large amounts of carbon dioxide and other pollutants that contribute to global warming. If we want to save the planet from the worst effects of climate change, we’ll need to find cleaner, renewable fuels.