Renewable Energy: A Quick Guide

With the oil price hike and the threat of global warming and climate change looming over our heads, scientists and economists have tapped into nature for alternative sources of energy to liberate us from high electricity bills and dependence on foreign imports. Thankfully, we do not have to look very far. The sunshine, falling water, strong gusts of wind and the push of tides are now being harnessed to produce powerful and usable energy.

So far, the technological developments and market acceptance of renewable energy has been promising. The United States is home to two of the world’s largest alternative energy power installations: the solar thermal power plant in the Mojave Desert and the geothermal power plant in The Geysers in California. On the other side of the world, Brazil is the leading producer of ethanol, a biofuel made from sugar cane and Japan is the largest exporter of solar panels. In fact, almost 20% of the world’s total energy consumption comes from renewable sources.

Renewables provide the solution to three major challenges facing the traditional fossil fuel-powered energy sources: cost efficiency, environmental protection and energy security.[1] With more alternatives available, access to cheap and effective energy will be available to more people all over the world. This lessens our dependence on oil-producing countries and somehow balances the unequal distribution of fossil fuels worldwide.

The infrastructure for renewable energy is sometimes criticized for being unsightly or cumbersome. Solar panels need a large land area and windmills can be visually unpleasing. However, these drawbacks are merely superficial compared to what renewable energy has done – and will do- for the economy and the environment. The world is rapidly taking notice. In fact, renewable energy already accounts for close to 20% of global energy consumption.

So bright is the future of renewable energy that in the near future, they are no longer alternatives but the main option.

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