RENEWABLE ENERGY PROVIDES SUBSTANTIAL BENEFITS FOR OUR ECONOMY, CLIMATE AND HEALTH.
BENEFITS FOR OUR ECONOMY
Renewable energy brings benefits for our economy, mainly from three angles: enhanced security of supply, lower energy bills for end-consumers and job creation.
Enhanced security of supply: Access to cheap energy has become essential to the wealth of modern economies. However, the unbalanced distribution of fossil fuel supplies among countries has led to significant vulnerabilities. Threats to global energy security include political instability of energy producing countries, fluctuating energy supplies, competition over energy resources, among others. Energy dependence puts many countries in a very vulnerable position as it introduces a risk in the price of the imported fuels as well as a potential exposure on its future availability. For example, European’s oil and gas import bills in 2012 was estimated at €470 billion which corresponded to 3.4% of the EU’s GDP. In contrast, renewable sources use endogenous and unlimited resources such as wind, sun, plant residues, heat from the earth and fast-moving water, which enhance the security of supply, hence removing exposure to fluctuations of fuel prices and concerns about the availability of external supply.
Lower energy bills: Energy-consumers may benefit from lower energy bills as renewables reduce electricity prices. Renewable energy provides affordable electricity as these technologies have negligible variable costs which contributes to reduced wholesale prices. This is in stark contrast to conventional plants which have more expensive fuel costs. Although the cost of investment is high, on a unitary basis, future costs are expected to decline as technology becomes more efficient.
Job creation: Studies show that renewable energy is associated with significant job creation. Although countries that manufacture, install and export renewable energy technologies are likely to create the largest share of gross jobs, countries without this local industry will also benefit from new jobs related to development, construction and, once renewable plants are commissioned, operation and maintenance activities. Compared to conventional technologies, the renewable energy industry is more labour-intensive, meaning that, on average, more jobs are created for each unit of electricity generated from renewables than from conventional technologies.
According to the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, investing in renewable energy is around 300 per cent more effective than investing in fossil fuel or nuclear jobs. This study concludes that for every million dollars invested in the wind sector it creates 13 jobs. In contrast, only 5 jobs would be created in the natural gas sector and 7 in the coal sector.
BENEFITS FOR OUR CLIMATE
Renewable energy plants produce zero to few greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions. In contrast, conventional energy generation is responsible for most of the human-produced GHG emissions, which trap heat in the atmosphere, driving up our planet’s temperature, raising the level of our oceans (“global warming”) and provoking harmful consequences on our health, climate and environment.
Therefore, increasing the deployment of renewable energy is probably the most effective way to fight global warming as it allows the replacement of fuel-burning plants with cleaner energy facilities.
BENEFITS FOR OUR HEALTH
Renewable energy sources promote a cleaner air space since they avoid GHG emissions coming from thermal generation. Also, renewable energy sources reduce the amount of oil, gas and coal mining necessary, and therefore, reduce the likelihood of accidental spills and nuclear accidents that these activities may cause. In addition, renewables technologies typically don’t require water to operate and therefore neither pollute water resources, nor compete for them.