What Are Sustainable Energy Sources?

Defining the Benefits of Sustainable Energy

The idea of utilizing sustainable energy has been around for a long time. In fact, prior to the development of coal in the mid 19th century, nearly all energy was from some renewable source. Biomass to fuel fires, wind to drive ships or hot springs for bathing…the primary source for traditional energy was renewable energy.   

Fast forward to the present, sustainable energy is still widely available but it is not always the first choice like in days of the past. To understand the benefits of sustainable energy, there are two things that need to be defined. 

  1. What is a sustainable energy source? 
  2. What are fossil fuels? 

Without an understanding of those two concepts, the benefits can’t be elaborated on or discussed. So, without further ado…here are your questions answered. 

What is Sustainable Energy?

Sustainable energy is a form of energy that can be used over and over again without the fear of that source expiring or depleting in any way. Sustainable energy also does not cause any harm to the environment and is stable and widely available. Renewable energy such as solar, wind, geothermal hydropower and ocean energy are considered to be sustainable energy sources.

What Are Fossil Fuels?

Fossil fuels are made from decomposed organic material (plants and animals) that are found in the Earth’s crust and contain carbon and hydrogen which are then used to create energy. Coal, oil and natural gas are examples of fossil fuels and according to the National Academies of Science, 81% of the United States’ energy comes from coal, oil and natural gas.

What Are the Benefits of Sustainable Energy

  • Benefit #1: Fight against climate change
    • Renewable energy sources emit little to no greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases) in the energy-making process. They are often an extremely “clean” way to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. With our current human activity (transportation, electricity, industry) overloading the atmosphere, these gases act like a blanket and trap heat. This significant and harmful increase in temperature is causing global warming which has a multitude of other negative side effects for the planet.  
    • For example: According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 1,00 kWh of electricity using solar panels will reduce emission by more than 1,400 pounds of carbon dioxide (also including 8 lbs of sulfur dioxide and 5 lbs or nitrogen oxide).  
  • Benefit #2: Constant source of energy
    • Renewable energy is derived from natural resources that replenish themselves over a period of time without depleting the Earth’s resources. These resources are constant, abundant, available in some capacity everywhere and cause minimal environmental damage. 
  • Benefit #3: Reduces dependency on fossil fuels
    • The most effective way to reduce carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) is to reduce fossil fuel consumption. Sustainable energy is an inexhaustible energy source! According to an article written by the Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Science, our oil reserves will last us for only 45 more years, while our natural gas will last for 62 years and our coal will last roughly 130 years. While this is just an estimate, those numbers just don’t add up! However…strong winds, sunny skies, abundant plant matter, heat from the earth and fast-moving water are a constant supply of energy vastly abundant around the world. 
  • Benefit #4: Job and economic benefits
    • The renewable energy industry relies heavily on human labor for installation. While renewable energy already supports thousands of jobs in the United States, the increase in support for renewable energy will only create more jobs in the future. These additional jobs can create a positive impact on the economy. It is also important to note that through our dependency on fossil fuels, we are at the hands of the economic and political goals of the supplier country. Renewable energy can reduce our dependence on foreign imports (like oil) because they are stable and readily available in every country. 
    • Did you know that since the first Solar Job Census was issued in 2010, American solar jobs have increased 167%? There were just over 93,000 jobs in 2010, and in 2019 it was 249,983 jobs. In the five-year period between 2014 and 2019, solar employment increased 44%, five times faster than job growth in the overall U.S. economy.
  • Benefit #5: Health benefits
    • Replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources helps to reduce harmful emissions to improve air and water quality. By reducing nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide, public health and climate benefits can be seen. These improvements are linked to both the type of sustainable energy and the location. However, it is predicted that the health and climate benefits could be up to $210M per year and $170 per MWh of electricity generated through the use of these energy-efficient strategies. Take a look at the following video for more information on this model. 

Embracing the Past

Sustainable energy harnessed from resources like the sun, wind and water provides a chance to curb greenhouse gas emissions and also improve our economic stability and independence. From health cost saving to reducing our carbon footprint, embracing this “ancient” mindset might be the only way to move on in the future. It isn’t so much about reinventing our power source but rather about transitioning to a more sustainable, low carbon footprint model that has served our planet for years.  

Interested in Solar for Your Property?

If you are planning for the shift to a more “green” energy source, NC Solar Now is North Carolina’s Most Trusted solar panel installer. We embrace the philosophy that solar is for everyone! We’ll be by your side from your first free consult through our warranty period and beyond. Visit us online at NC SOLAR NOW or contact us for more information. Check us out on Facebook or Instagram. Want to chat with someone? Give us a call at 919-833-9096.

Want to Read More?

Take a look at some of our other blogs about solar. 

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