The Green Economy and Renewable Energy

‘Renewable energy is derived from natural processes that are replenished constantly. In its various forms, it derives directly or indirectly from the sun, or from heat generated deep within the earth. Including energy generated from solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, hydropower and ocean resources, and biofuels and hydrogen derived from renewable resources.’

Energy is fundamental for our lives and underpins all the functioning of society. Over the last few decades, the energy sector has changed drastically. The ever-increasing demand for energy, soaring oil prices, uncertain energy supplies from some areas of the world and fears of global warming are all challenges that are currently the subject of intense debate.

Greening the energy sector aims at a renewable and sustainable energy system.  This process involves improvements in energy efficiency, a much greater supply of energy from renewable sources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pollution.

Renewable energy replaces conventional fuels in four distinct areas: electricity generation, hot water/space heating, motor fuels, and rural (off-grid) energy services.  Another one of the forces propelling renewable energy policies and development is the potential to create new industries and generate new jobs.

The combustion of fossil fuels has both pollution and human health impacts. Renewable energy generation can mitigate or avoid many of the public health risks caused by the mining, production and use of fossil fuels; as renewable energy produces little or no waste products, thereby having minimal impact on the environment.

Investing in renewable energy is becoming increasingly viable as technology advances and costs decrease.  All forms of energy are expensive, but as time progresses, renewable energy is generally becoming cheaper, while fossil fuels are generally getting more expensive.

“Instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy sources, we need to invest in tomorrow’s.” Barack Obama

Making this kind of energy transformation is no easy task but it’s clear that our current situation of dependence on fossil fuels is unsustainable.  Many pioneering countries – rich and poor, large and small – are already working hard to make the power shift from dirty to clean energy.  Examples include solar energy for heating purposes in China, geothermal energy in Iceland and El Salvador, and on-shore and off-shore applications of wind energy in many more countries.  Norway, for instance, already obtains all of its electricity from renewable sources.

No single form of clean energy can provide for all the world’s energy needs, since many locations lack sufficient wind, while others lack an adequate water source for hydroelectric power, and so on.  Green energy solutions work by pairing the proper mode of energy production with the location where it will be used.  Moving towards energy sustainability will require changes not only in the way energy is supplied, but in the way it is used, namely through energy efficiency and conservations measures.

“By 2050, we could get all the energy we need from renewable sources.There is nothing more important to our ability to create a sustainable future.” WWF