Why Renewable Energy Is Important
A common talking point of late, the gas crisis has been a major focus of attention in the media. Never has the pressure been higher for our transition away from fossil fuels. If we fail in this objective, there are two potential disasters looming in the not too distant future: a global shortage of energy and rising prices (already happening) and the worsening of the climate crisis. If we are unable to meet this latter objective, life on Earth will quite literally be under threat.
Although formed originally of organic matter (from plants and tiny marine animals), the process of producing coal, oil and natural gas occurs over hundreds of millions of years under specific conditions meaning it is non-renewable, especially when we use it at a far quicker rate than it would ever be able to replenish (which it can’t). Using this energy dense yet finite source has its benefits of course, with its ability to meet all our energy needs relatively cheaply and easily (until now) while helping to drive a powerful economy. But this source has some rather big problems too – aside from coal which is pretty widespread, there are restrictions with their geographical locations and the potential cut off when countries fall out, as is being currently experienced. There’s also the extreme harm done to our planet when they’re burned – burning fossil fuels for energy produces 25% of all carbon emissions. (Agriculture produces another 25% but that’s for another day.) If we have any hope of limiting global warming to 1.5°C to prevent the worst effects of climate change occurring, reports have shown that we must immediately begin to phase out usage of fossil fuels in a way that sees their decline continue steeply. So what do we turn to instead?
Renewable energy sources include Wind Power, Hydropower and Solar Power, amongst others. These are all completely natural, allowing us to harness energy from sustainable and infinite clean sources. There has been huge growth in these industries in recent years, particularly in wind power with the UK having established themselves as world leaders in the off-shore wind market. Our Prime Minister announced in October 2021 that the UK is aiming to switch to 100% renewable energy by 2035, reducing our emissions by 78%. Yet despite this, currently gas and oil still makes up around 70% of our overall energy supplies and the industry remains heavily subsidised, with new licences for oil and gas fields being considered for (and likely to receive) approval even now. There is an argument that the speed of transition to renewable energy is slow and we need to continue using fossil fuels to fill the gap. This may be true to an extent, but if we can roll out not one but several fully tested and safe vaccinations against a serious viral enemy in less than a year surely we are capable of making this transition in a more timely manner, should the right resources, funds and incentives be in place. Diverting subsidies from the deep pockets of fossil fuel companies to renewables would be a great start. These decisions unfortunately are highly politicised and despite the warnings from several directions the consequences of not immediately diverting away from fossil fuels, let alone the knowledge that we only have enough oil and gas supplies to meet current demand for another 47 years and coal for just over 100 years, our governments are seriously letting us down by continuing to provide funding for longer than necessary to these planet destroying practices.
So what can you do about it? The first thing is to switch to a green energy supplier. With prices due to continue hiking and the likelihood of you finding yourself outside of a fixed tariff soon if you haven’t already, you might as well go ahead and do this now. This acts as a ‘vote’ for your energy provider to produce more green energy on your behalf, so the more people that switch, the more renewable energy will be pumped into our grid. You could also replace your gas hob with an induction hob and if you have the funds to do so, switch to an electric car and replace your gas or combi boiler with an air source heat pump. You can also write to your local MP and sign petitions to stop the government from approving new oil and gas fields – the website www.stopcambo.org.uk has some great information and resources available.