Renewable energy sources offer a path toward a sustainable, safer future. Currently, carbon dioxide – which is emitted from fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum – accounts for 82 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Replacing these carbon-intensive energy sources with cleaner power options such as wind and solar, is a crucial step in securing our energy future.
There are extensive environmental, health, and economic benefits to clean energy initiatives.
Consuming energy from renewable sources rather than fossil fuels, reduces emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. Human-generated GHG emissions are the leading cause of climate change.
- Renewable energy also does not pollute our air. The EPA anticipates a 90 percent reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions from power plants by 2030 under the proposed Clean Power Plan, owing to the greater use of clean energy and the downsizing of fossil fuel consumption.
Reducing air pollution and improving air quality are important functions of renewable energy. A recent report conducted by the National Climate Assessment found that, by exacerbating ozone formation, climate change results higher rates of asthma, greater respiratory problems, and more premature deaths in the United States.
- The WHO estimates the global health costs of climate change will be between $2-4 billion by 2030. Rapid conversion to renewable energy will mitigate these costs and improve lives.
Renewable energy projects and energy efficiency initiatives reduce overall demand for electricity, which in turn applies downward pressure on energy prices (EPA).
- The design and implementation process for wind farms typically takes several years, and each wind farm on average maintains a lifespan of 20 to 30 years (AWEA). As such, these projects attract numerous temporary and long-term employment opportunities, which in turn drive economic growth on local, state, and federal levels.
Wind power is among the fastest-growing and most cost-effective renewable energy sources available in the world today. According to the American Wind Energy Association, the average price of wind power declined nearly 60 percent between 2009 and 2013. As technological advances lead to the construction of larger blades and taller towers, wind turbines will be able to generate more energy from wind more efficiently. Wind power is uniquely positioned as a viable, long-term clean energy solution to sustainably power our future.
According to the EIA, renewable energy sources comprise approximately 13 percent of U.S. electricity generation. Wind power is the second-leading renewable source, accounting for about 4 percent of total electricity generation. Other prominent renewable energy sources include hydroelectric power (6 percent), biomass (2 percent), geothermal (<1 percent) and solar (<1 percent).
In August 2015, the EPA proposed a Clean Power Plan, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to ward off the growing threat of climate change. Under the plan, domestic power plant emissions would be cut by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. While the plan is a federal initiative, states will have the flexibility to develop tailored plans that address their unique energy needs.
In order to reduce emissions while meeting steady energy demand, the Clean Power Plan opens the door to greater investment into renewable energy sources. In fact, the EIA estimates the amount of electricity generated by wind will double or triple by 2030.