Lucas D. Michigan

Is Renewable Energy the Future?

How will the next president use the energy options that new technologies have provided to influence the energy of the future?

Dear Future President,

When people hear the word energy, they think of all they ways they and other may be consuming energy. Not thinking about where it is coming from or how it is produced. Water power, now known as hydroelectric, was first used in 200 BC to power mills for crushing grain, full cloth, and tan leather. These sources has long been used but was not fully adopted as a primary energy source. Not all energy is created equal, coal-fired plants create one fourth of all U.S. global warming emission compared to little to no emissions from renewable sources. Because of the harmful effects of conventional energy sources and the positive benefits of renewable sources, the government and citizens should replace these conventional sources with renewable energy sources.

Renewable energy sources should be implemented over conventional energy because of the global warming emissions associated with conventional sources. Over the last few decades the United States has relied heavily on conventional energy sources; the main two being coal-fired power plants and natural gas-fired power plants. Some individuals claim that conventional power plants are very clean in the ways the energy is produced. However, actual facts and research into the statement proves otherwise. In “Renewable Energy Sources Benefit Health, Climate, and the Economy” written by Tamara Thompson, she describes and compares both conventional and renewable in a multitude of ways. In the article she references data gathered by the International Panel on Climate Change, an internationally recognized panel that focuses on global climate change in the modern day. The data shows clear cut lines of separation when looking at the emissions output of the sources of energy: “coal, which emits between 1.4 to 3.6 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt hour, wind emits 0.02 to 0.04 pounds, solar emits 0.07 to 0.2 pounds, geothermal emits 0.1 to 0.2 pounds, and hydroelectric is between 0.1 to 0.5.” Because coal-fired plants emit at least three times as much carbon dioxide compared to even the least clean renewable energy source, conventional sources are not as clean as portrayed by many individuals. The evidence proves that even at the high end of emissions for renewable energy is significantly more clean than the conventional sources.

Renewable energy sources should replace conventional sources due to the economic benefits that the new sources bring. Over the last ten years, many states have become net importers of coal and natural gas from other places, mostly Latin American countries. In “Renewable Energy Sources Benefit Health, Climate, and Economy,” in the article written by Tamara Thompson, data was collected around coal importation has led to the finding that 38 states were net importers of coal is 2008, much of the coal coming all the way from Colombia, Venezuela, and Indonesia.” Because coal and natural gas are not renewable it costs money to import the necessary amount of coal needed to power the country, but renewable energy, once in place, no such payments for resources are needed because most renewable energy is derived from the environment for free. This enhances the economy because then the annual payments made for coal importation are not needed, subsequently the money stays in the country and can be spent on more renewable resources or more pressing issues or new investments. As well as, the price of the energy produced by renewable energy sources will be significantly less than conventional, as outlined in, “A Renewable Energy Boom” written by New York Times, accounting firm KPMG predicted by “2020 solar energy in many countries could be 10 percent cheaper than energy produced by burning coal.” Because solar and other forms of renewable energy does not require a burnable fuel such as coal or natural gas, which accounts for the high price of energy, the price could be significantly lower. This helps the economy by allowing the money of the families and businesses that would be spent on energy bills to be spent in other areas of the economy, in turn stimulating the economy in a positive way.

On the other hand renewable energy has some drawbacks to being such a fantastic energy option. Renewable sources being new adds some complexity to enabling the new sources of energy. As shown in, “Alternative Energy Sources Are Too Costly and Unreliable” written by Ed. Sylvia Engdahl, the amount of land usage of renewable sources is significantly higher than conventional. The 100 Megawatt equivalent energy requires very different amounts of land to produce depending on the source of the energy, “conventional coal-fired plants require approximately 2 square miles, a wind farm would require approximately 75-100 square miles, and solar would require a significant amount of land dependent on location.” This means that the land usage for renewable sources is less efficient that the conventional. Another downside of renewable sources is that large storage systems for alternatives, trying to store at a low is not possible now due to technological limitations. For the same article, it is expressed by comparing the storage costs of conventional and renewable energy, “The projected cost of renewable power in 2016 including the cost of backup capacity is at least five times higher than that of conventional electricity.” This means that the initial investment required to build the plants and system to support the renewable sources is convincingly higher to implement that the conventional counterpart.

Ways to implement alternative or renewable sources over conventional energy sources such as providing government funding in the attempt to expand the industry for research or the actual building of the power plants, subsides to the companies that are constructing the power plants, taxing the conventional energy production also known as a carbon tax, and overall awareness of the renewable sources will provide help to spread the word. Renewable energy production positively affects the economy, the global climate, and the health everyone in the world, while conventional only hurts them.

As the next President you must consider the options on the table, if renewable energy production is over looked the current issues caused by the conventional energy sources will continue escalate and become much worse.

Thank you for your time and good luck in office.


Lucas D.