Renewable energy is a constant discussion in today’s evolving world. Energy costs factor into both the daily lives of people and the direction of greater collectives like the Commonwealth of Australia. With nearly a quarter of Australia’s electricity demand now met by energy sources like solar, you may be wondering why these types of energy are considered renewable, what advantages they have over other energy sources, and why they are important.
Is Solar Energy Really Renewable?
According to scientists, government bodies, and general knowledge, solar energy is a renewable source of power. If you take the word literally, it can seem a bit confusing. For example, a solar panel has to be produced, so that might not seem like an infinitely renewable source. To figure out why solar energy is considered renewable, it helps to start with a proper definition.
Renewable energy is a type of power that draws its energy from a source that is effectively unlimited but has a rate that limits the total amount of energy that can be produced.
Because solar energy panels source their energy from the sun, their power source will last for billions of years. The components of the system may need maintenance and replacement over time, but the source is still renewable. Because there is no consistent conversion of another fuel source into energy, the system produces more energy than it takes to create it. Early versions of the technology were less efficient, but advancements quickly made solar a viable source of renewable energy.
What Are the Advantages of Renewable Energy?
With renewable energy, the system can keep supplying power as long as the equipment is in working order and the power source exists. This cuts the total work that has to be done to produce energy, since acquiring the fuel is no longer a concern. Emissions are drastically reduced, though there are relatively low emissions that come from manufacturing and maintaining equipment.
Because renewable energy sources do not need to be connected to a grid, installing re-newable energy grids in new locations is frequently cheaper than bringing in lines from a power plant. With a solar panel system, you can even set up a small energy grid for a campsite while out in the wilderness. For homeowners and businesses that are already connected to a grid, renewables cut down the power bill and can even make money by selling back power to the grid.
The Importance of Renewable Energy
The energy is vital to the advancement of both personal energy freedom and the future of the energy grid. Energy sources like coal and oil have a limited supply that will eventually run out, no matter how efficiently they are converted into energy. While the exact amount may be slightly different, the total amount of oil is estimated to be about 1.4 trillion barrels as of the end of 2021. At current rates, this will last for 41 more years. An online counter tracks supply versus consumption to give an estimate of the current availability. Demand increases year over year while proven reserves are found at a much lower rate, so the available supply is almost certainly not going to last that long.
This ignores the environmental impacts of burning fossil fuels for energy. Since humans began burning oil and coal for energy, the combusting fossil fuels have unleashed a vast amount of carbon dioxide into the planet’s atmosphere. Removing the contaminants from the atmosphere is difficult on a large scale, and turning back the changes from the effects it has already caused will take time, if it’s at all possible. Prevention is by far the best method of reducing the environmental impact of energy production, and the best prevention is using renewable energy sources that limit the amount of contaminants we produce.
The energy detractors frequently note the advantages of fossil fuels in certain applications, but the importance of renewable energy holds true even here. As more of the load is shifted to renewable energies, fossil fuel supplies can be reserved for applications where they have the most utility. The numerous advantages of renewable energy make research and investment into it possibly the most important thing for the future of the planet and species.