Insights into Renewable Energy and Climate Change

Renewable Energy in 2023 and into the Future – New Climate Normal Will Put Huge Strain on Natural Resources

By Jane Marsh

Record-breaking power demands exact a huge toll on natural resources. More households need cooling or heating to compensate for temperature changes, and consuming this energy increases emissions that make matters worse for the environment. Here are some vital things to consider as climate change enacts a toll on the planet.

Climate Change Byproducts

Climate change manifests itself in different ways. It might be heavy rains one day and sweltering heat the next, and it’s easy to dismiss those as just seasonal changes. However, when drastic weather changes come frequently, it only becomes evident that an underlying cause must be addressed.

The world economy depends on natural resources to function. Fuels like oil, coal and natural gas power global infrastructure to keep production and daily lives going. However, continuous consumption only contributes to climate change.

Various industries that produce greenhouse gas emissions add to the problem. Consumers that depend on burning finite natural resources for power contribute to an increased global temperature. Things will get worse unless people are willing to use other energy sources.

Extreme weather events are one of the most noticeable byproducts of climate change and include heat waves, droughts, typhoons and floods. Each phenomenon impacts people’s way of life.

Frequent Heat Waves

Heat waves have become a frequent phenomenon, with over six recorded in 2020 across major U.S. cities. That’s three times more than during the 1960s. Aside from the increased frequency, heat waves also last 49 days longer compared to earlier decades.

This increase in temperature only adds to the already high load on energy grids across the country. The heat raises household power consumption as citizens try to keep cool using fans and air conditioners. In addition, the hotter temperature results in transmission and distribution lines losing more of the electricity they move.

Extended Droughts

Droughts are also ever-present in the context of climate change. They bring water scarcity worldwide and are especially harmful to agriculture. Agricultural industries rely heavily on water for livestock production, farming and irrigation. Dry spells lead to food shortages and subsequent malnutrition.

Less water available means competition increases while production suffers. The power sector is affected by widespread droughts as well. Hydro and thermal power plants that rely on cool water for temperature control face challenges due to extended shortages.

Stronger Typhoons

As if heat waves and droughts were not enough, stronger typhoons also threaten to add to the overall consumption of natural resources. These storms hit more frequently, thanks to the effects of climate change.

Severe weather conditions brought by typhoons — like heavy downpours and strong winds — can damage power lines and infrastructure. Severe flooding also disrupts business operations and daily activities. More resources are used for relief operations, repairs, and restoration of essential services and infrastructure.

Inclement weather and continuous rains also affect households that depend on fireplaces and wood stoves for heating and cooking. Affected communities are forced to use green wood or unseasoned firewood with high moisture content since they can’t dry it properly due to constant cold and wet conditions.

Burning green wood is a major cause of chimney fires as it “soots up” chimneys quicker and slows ventilation. The extra moisture leads to condensation and produces a highly combustible material called creosote that can burn quietly and reach high temperatures. If left undetected, chimney fires can cause significant damage to homes and endanger lives.

Insights into Renewable Energy: Solar energy panel photovoltaic cell and wind turbine farm power generator in nature landscape for production of renewable green energy is friendly industry. Clean sustainable development concept.

Leaning on Renewable Energy

The world’s energy problems are also considered environmental problems. World industries need a power source to keep daily lives going. However, as they consume finite resources like fuel, they also produce emissions that harm the environment and cause extreme weather events. It’s a vicious cycle that must be stopped.

Little can be done when global fuel reserves are finally depleted. The answer lies in shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. This has challenges, but the advantages significantly outweigh the risks. Some benefits of using clean power include:

  • Cheaper energy production: Electricity from solar power cost 85% less between 2010 and 2020, making it a viable alternative to fossil fuels. Solar power is increasingly popular in households as the technology becomes more affordable and efficient.
  • More jobs in the energy sector: As the world shifts to renewable energy, more jobs will be created to support the sector’s needs. Leaning on renewable sources will also create more jobs elsewhere, like the automotive industry, as the demand for electric vehicles is projected to grow.
  • A healthier world for people: Reduced greenhouse gas emissions lead to cleaner and healthier air for the global population. Air pollution is a prevalent concern that stems from continuously burning fossil fuels — the shift to renewable energy plans to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, effectively improving global air quality.
  • More energy sources: Countries heavily reliant on oil, coal and natural gas can produce their own energy to fuel their economies. They can turn to solar, water and wind and leverage those resources to power their industries.
  • Future-proof industries: More companies will turn to renewable sources to continue production and drive growth when fuel reserves run out. Relying on sustainable energy will equip businesses to pursue a more productive future.

Hydropower as a Real-World Example

The global economy is still heavily dependent on finite natural resources, but there are already signs of movement toward renewable energy. More countries are beginning to see the promising future of green energy and are taking a step in the right direction.

The United States has already begun using water as a renewable source to promote sustainable energy. Hydropower plants use flowing water from rivers and water stored in dams to create electricity.

The energy from the falling water rotates the turbines, which then spin a generator that converts the mechanical energy into electrical energy. Hydropower is currently the leading renewable energy source in the U.S., representing about 17% of total electricity production.

Sustainable Power Can Stand up to Climate Change

Renewable energy can help propel the world toward a cleaner and more sustainable future. Hopefully, that will happen sooner rather than later as green energy technologies improve.