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Renewable Energy Facts
Inspire Clean Energy
8 min read
category: Clean Energy 101
These days it seems that terms like “renewable and sustainable energy” are on everyone’s lips. And despite all the talk and hype, there are still many popular misconceptions about renewable energy and what it means for our planet’s future. Yes, we know that it’s better for the environment, but what exactly does that mean for us?
So, let’s take a moment to look at the facts.
What is renewable energy?
The term renewable energy refers to any energy source that can be utilized more than once. For example, fossil fuels like coal can only be burned once to create energy. Once that lump of coal is burned up, there’s no way to use it again quickly.
On the other hand, when we use a resource like the wind to turn a turbine, it does not stop blowing as soon as we take energy from it. We take some of its kinetic energy, but there will always be more wind. As another example, when we use biomass (plant matter) for energy, we may burn a singular plant, but we can always grow more relatively quickly.
What is the most widely used type of renewable energy?
Hydropower (water) is the most widely used type of renewable energy. This form of energy is generated by dams, and it currently generates over 54% of the world’s renewable energy capacity. And that, in turn, accounts for 18% of the world’s electricity.
What is the fastest-growing source of energy in the world?
Renewable energy, of course! Consumption of renewable energy is set to rise by 78% between 2015 and 20401. Global demand is increasing quickly, thanks to forward-thinking people like our Inspire members.
As for which type of renewable energy specifically, solar power is the fastest-growing source of energy, projected to grow from providing 11% of the US’s renewable energy to 48% by 20502.
How efficient is renewable energy?
Using renewable energy is generally far more efficient than fossil fuels because it is, by nature, renewable. That means that with renewables we typically don’t have to dig into the ground or do anything dangerous to source the fuel, which is a pretty efficient way of fueling our world compared to fossil fuels.
Most renewable energy plants or farms can be set up once and generate energy efficiently for decades. When you build a wind turbine, it will generate energy with just a little maintenance; you don’t need to continue to find a fresh supply of wind to power it. Provided it’s built in a suitable location with consistent wind access, it will work extremely efficiently.
It’s also worth noting that the output of many fuels is inefficient. For example, coal only gives off 29% of its original value in energy. Meanwhile, wind provides 1,164% of its original value in energy. That’s a pretty substantial difference!
You can learn more about Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy here!
Here are our top 5 renewable energy fun facts:
1. Renewable energy creates 5x more jobs than fossil fuels
Fortunes have been made in the oil industry, so this is a statistic few oil tycoons want you to know about. However, clean energy jobs outnumber fossil fuel jobs by more than 2.5 to 1, and when it comes to exclusively coal and gas (excluding oil), that number rises to 5 to 1.
That means for every 1,000 people employed in the coal and gas industries, there are 5,000 jobs available in the renewable energy sector.
Best of all, these jobs are created locally. Much of our oil and fuel comes from overseas, and so there is even more opportunity to create jobs here in the US with the help of renewables. Already, clean energy jobs outnumber fossil fuel jobs in almost all US states, and the margin between them is increasing daily3.
2. Solar power could be the world’s top power source by 2050
According to a report by the International Energy Agency, solar power is set to be the number one power source by 20504. Why? The solar industry is growing fast each and every year, as it is one of the few renewable energy sources that can be utilized by businesses and individuals alike. Virtually any open space or rooftop can be used to place solar panels.
While solar panels lack some efficiency currently, that is quickly changing. As the panels themselves become more sophisticated, they’ll be even more eagerly adopted.
3. One wind turbine can power up to 1,500 homes for a year
Yes, you read that correctly. The average on-land wind turbine (2.5-3MW capacity) can produce enough electricity to power 1,500 average homes5. If you look to offshore turbines, this number increases exponentially due to their advantageous positioning, with the capacity to power an impressive 3,312 households!
That single wind turbine also creates jobs and requires little maintenance over its lifetime. The average wind turbine lasts for 20-25 years, meaning it can power 1,500 homes each year for a quarter of a century. If that’s not clean energy, we don’t know what is!
4. Massive corporations are pledging to go green
The switch to renewable energy is everyone’s responsibility, and so numerous top companies have pledged to go green or even achieve net-zero soon. Here are some of the most innovative:
- Tesla: Tesla, of course, is no stranger to thinking green. Since they build some of the world’s most popular electric vehicles, it’s no surprise to learn that they are also developing super-efficient batteries to store renewable energy sources.
- McDonald’s: Not often looked to for being good for us or the planet, McDonald’s is actually making major changes to ensure that they do less damage to the planet. They’ve switched to energy-efficient appliances, encouraging hybrid and electric vehicles in their parking lots, and are doing more to source their animal products from considerate sources.
- Bank of America: Within a 5-year period, Bank of America cut down on its paper use by 32% and implemented an internal paper recycling program that successfully recycles around 30,000 tons of paper per year.
- Dell: Dell implemented a recycling policy so their products don’t fill landfills. Customers can give back any of their old branded products for free, so they can recycle and dispose of them responsibly.
- Google: Google constructed the most energy-efficient data centers in the world and is a voice for good when it comes to the need to conserve energy. Google continues to support and fund green energy initiatives and projects, and even buys and installs solar panels and wind turbines.
- Walmart: Walmart has done a significant amount to ensure their supply chains are as green as possible. They cut off any suppliers that weren’t doing anything to ensure their distribution and manufacturing methods were cutting down on carbon emissions.
5. Renewable energy can help you save money
We often hear the argument that we can’t switch to renewable energy sources because it’s too costly to build the new infrastructure. While building any new infrastructure is costly, did you know that if we were on 100% renewable energy, it would actually save $321 billion in energy costs each year?
A study by Rewiring America found that households would save a significant amount of money by switching to clean energy sources6. If all elements within a household ran on clean energy (that includes things like your furnace), it could save the average household a tantalizing $2,500 a year. Who wouldn’t like that much money back in their pocket?
In many cases, we’re told that switching to renewable energy will require sacrifice, but that’s simply not the case. In the long term, we can expect to see significant savings for our actions, especially for those who can afford to be early adopters of electric vehicles.
Want more information about renewable energy?
Did some of these facts surprise you? All too often we hear negativity around the concept of renewables, but this is often due to society’s unwillingness to change or a skewed view that has trickled down from those who have made a lot of money from fossil fuels. Fortunately, the facts about renewable energy are quickly becoming common knowledge, and huge companies are making positive changes.
If you want to be a part of this global change for the better, you don’t need to wait! You have the power to choose clean energy now for your home. Our customers are just like you: decided to make a positive change by switching their homes to clean energy at a fixed monthly price. If you too would like to drastically reduce your carbon footprint and increase the demand for clean energy, find out about our clean energy plans and join us in as little as five minutes.
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