In March 2017, IRENA (the International Renewable Energy Agency) released a report entitled “Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2017”. The report shows that the cost of renewables continues to fall, with 12 countries now able to power their economies entirely with renewable energy.
The 12 countries are: Denmark, Uruguay, Spain, Ireland, Nicaragua, Portugal, New Zealand, Afghanistan, Germany, China, India and Sweden.
Costs for renewables continue to drop as technology improves and awareness grows around the benefits of renewable energy. According to IRENA’s report, the cost of utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) has fallen by 73% since 2010. Costs for onshore wind have fallen by 18% over the same period.
Renewables are becoming increasingly competitive with traditional forms of energy generation. In some cases they are even cheaper. For example, in March 2017 the Costa Rican government announced that it will be powered entirely by renewable energy by 2021. This is possible due to the country’s abundance of renewable resources – it has 99% access to renewable electricity generation potential.
Renewables present a viable solution to climate change and can help countries meet their emissions targets. They also have a range of other benefits such as reducing air pollution and creating jobs. As costs continue to drop and renewables become more accessible, we can expect to see even more countries making the switch to renewables-based economies.
The benefits of powering an economy with renewable energy are vast and varied. They include cleaner air and water, job growth, reduced carbon emissions, and stabilize energy prices.
One of the chief benefits of using renewables to power an economy is that they help to clean up the air and water. Burning coal, oil, or natural gas produces pollutants like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, which can cause respiratory problems and acid rain. Renewables like solar and wind don’t produce these pollutants, so using them instead of traditional fuels helps to improve air quality.
Renewables also help to conserve water supplies. Fossil fuels require significant amounts of water for extraction and refining, while renewables use very little or no water at all. This is especially important in areas where fresh water is scarce, like the Western United States.
Job growth is another major benefit of renewables. The solar industry now employs more people than coal mining in the United States, and wind turbine technician is one of the fastest-growing occupations in the country. Renewables offer a wide range of opportunities for employment, from installation and maintenance to engineering and research.
In addition to creating jobs, renewables can also reduce CO2 emissions. The burning of fossil fuels produces large amounts of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Renewables like solar and wind generate electricity without producing greenhouse gases, so using them helps to combat climate change.
Finally, renewable energy can help to stabilize energy prices. The cost of renewable energy sources like solar and wind has been dropping rapidly in recent years, while the cost of traditional fuels like coal and oil has been rising. This makes renewables a more affordable option for many businesses and consumers.
It is estimated that by switching to renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, an average of $115 can be saved each year.1 This number may vary depending on the state or country in which you reside, but it is a good estimate of the average savings. Some locations may have higher savings potential while others might have lower.
But how does this compare to traditional forms of energy? The average cost of electricity from coal-fired plants, for example, is around 10 cents per kilowatt-hour.2 This means that it would take approximately 11 years for the average person to break even on their investment in renewable energy, assuming they switched from coal-fired plants to solar or wind power.
There are many reasons to switch to renewable energy, not just financial ones. Renewable energy is cleaner and more sustainable than traditional forms of energy, which can have negative impacts on both the environment and human health. For this reason, it is important to consider making the switch even if the financial savings are not as high as we would like them to be.
The environmental impacts of powering an economy with renewable energy are largely determined by the type of renewable energy used. For example, wind turbines and solar panels don’t produce any emissions, so using them would have no impact on climate change. However, if hydroelectricity is used to generate power, it can have a significant impact on local water ecosystems.
In general, using renewable energy instead of fossil fuels can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants that can harm the environment. For example, replacing coal-fired power plants with wind or solar farms can dramatically reduce the amount of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter released into the air. This not only helps improve air quality but also reduces the health risks associated with air pollution.
Renewables can also help reduce water use in areas where it is scarce. For example, installing solar thermal systems can help save water that would ordinarily be used to generate steam for electricity generation. Similarly, wind turbines can help reduce water consumption by displacing electricity generated from traditional sources such as natural gas or coal.
Overall, using renewable energy rather than fossil fuels has a number of environmental benefits. While there are some downsides to certain forms of renewables (such as hydroelectricity), the overall impact is likely to be positive.
In addition to the widely known benefits of renewable energy such as reduced pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, there are other advantages to powering an economy with renewables.
Renewables are reliable and efficient. Unlike fossil fuels, which can only be used once, renewables can be used over and over again. They are also less likely to cause blackouts because they are not as dependent on a single source as fossil fuels.
Renewables create jobs and stimulate the economy. The solar industry is now growing at 20 times the rate of the overall economy in the United States and employs more people than oil and gas extraction combined. Studies have shown that for every dollar invested in renewable energy, $2.5 is returned in economic benefits.
Renewables help reduce deforestation. Burning wood or biomass for fuel is a major cause of deforestation, but using renewables such as solar or wind power instead eliminates that need.
Renewables are cost effective in the long run. While the initial costs of installing renewable energy systems may be higher than traditional energy sources, renewables generate electricity at a lower cost in the long run because there are no fuel costs involved.
Overall, there are many reasons why powering an economy with renewable energy is a smart choice. Renewables are reliable, efficient, create jobs and stimulate the economy, reduce deforestation, and are cost effective in the long run.