You may have noticed that the number of wind turbines and solar panels is increasing, but is creating energy in these ways really beneficial? We’re frequently told that our planet is in a climate crisis, but will installing a few panels on the roof of your home help? 

What are the advantages of renewable energy?

Renewable energy will always be available.

When we use fossil fuels to create energy, we’re dipping into a reserve that will eventually run out. Gas, oil and coal are currently available to us, but using them in such large volumes as we are at the moment means that the supply will dwindle, if fossil fuels are used then this should be done more wisely.

Renewable resources, including sunshine, tides, wind and biomass, will always be available to us and won’t run out - they are naturally replenished.

Save money long term.

Imagine if you could create all the energy you needed from the sun or wind to power your home. You wouldn’t need to pay any energy bills and, if you have an electric car, you wouldn’t even need to pay any money to refuel.

Your air source heat pump, which extracts energy from the air surrounding your home, could also use electricity generated from renewable sources to heat and cool your home. As a bonus, any electricity that you create and don’t use can be sold to the local energy supplier.

Reduce your carbon footprint.

The burning of fossil fuels by power stations, domestic boilers and vehicles creates large volumes of greenhouse gases. These gases are contributing to global warming and climate change, and they can pollute our air with emissions that can be bad for our health. Renewable energy is low- or zero-carbon and doesn't emit any dangerous gases into the environment.

In using renewable energy, you could significantly reduce your carbon footprint and help to prevent our world from heating up any further.

How does renewable energy reduce climate change?

A dominant cause of climate change is the gases that are released from the burning of fossil fuels. These gases form a layer around the planet that makes it harder for excess heat to escape. This is one of the reasons why the temperature on Earth is gradually increasing, melting the ice caps and causing devastating fires in America, Australia and elsewhere.

Renewable energy doesn’t rely on burning fossil fuels to create electricity. In most cases, they are emission-free, which means that they don’t release any harmful gases when they are used. For example, an electric car that runs using electricity that’s been created using renewable sources doesn’t create any emissions. It is completely clean and running it has no impact on our environment.

If we severely reduced our non-renewable energy usage, the layer of greenhouse gases around our planet would gradually thin and temperatures would come back down. 

How does using renewable energy help the environment?

So what impact could all of the above have on the environment? With the ice melting in colder regions around the planet, sea levels are rising. NASA has predicted that the Arctic Ocean will become ice free during summers by 2050, meaning animals such as the Arctic fox, the polar bear and reindeer will lose their habitats.

All of this melted ice needs to go somewhere. Sea levels will rise by around one to four feet before the year 2100, causing further flooding and high tides. As the temperature of the sea increases, the water expands further.

An increase in heat will have an impact on countries that are already hot. Droughts and heatwaves are expected to increase in number as well as intensity. 

What are the disadvantages of renewable energy?

While the disadvantages of renewable energy are few and far between, there are some things that you need to consider before making any big changes at home.

Higher upfront costs.

Although with some technology you will save money on your energy bills over the years, there is an initial cost to have the technology installed. For example, using solar panels to produce electricity on site means you can reduce the amount of electricity you require from the grid, lowering your monthly bills. However, there will be an upfront cost to have the panels installed in the first place. This should be seen as an investment.

Unpredictable energy production.

If you create electricity using renewable energy, you’re relying on resources that can’t be controlled, such as the sun and wind. While solar panels can produce electricity even on cloudy days, they can’t generate any power during the night, and the amount they produce may not always be enough. However, bear in mind that in most cases, these panels are designed to be used as a supplement to mains power.

Difficult to store.

With renewable energy, matching supply with demand can be difficult. It would be great if, on a really windy day, you could store all of the energy created from a wind turbine to supply residences for a long period of time. Unfortunately, this energy will likely be wasted if it isn’t used almost straight away. It can be expensive to install some form of storage technology, particularly in your own home.

The advantages of renewable energy definitely outweigh the disadvantages, so have a think about how you could use more renewable energy at home.

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