When we think of energy production today, green energy comes to mind no matter what your thoughts are on the climate crisis. The momentum behind renewables is so widespread some energy industry experts, including BP, anticipate renewables will be the primary energy source by 2040.
Proponents of clean, green energy point to many of the immediate benefits for communities and end consumers. But what about the long-term effects over time? What kind of benefits and potential drawbacks are predicted as we move towards incorporating more green energy sources?
Let’s take a look at some of the ways that green energy can profoundly change the world in the near future.
Race to Become the Primary Green Energy Producer Will Shake Up Global Powers
Like oil, green energy sources are expected to spark serious competition around the globe, which we’re already beginning to see. Countries like Germany, China, and Costa Rica are leading the way in the production of green energy and the equipment that makes it possible. They are making moves now to position themselves as the green energy leaders of tomorrow. China is not only installing the most solar voltaic capacity in the world, but they are also producing a large percentage of solar panels that are used around the globe.
Corporations are also setting themselves up for future success in the green energy market. More and more petroleum companies like BP are making major investments in developing green energy technologies to maintain their prominence in the energy sector. Many people will likely be surprised to find these companies will still be the source of energy production a couple of decades from now, just in a more diverse way.
Some areas of the world are in a better geographic position to win the green energy race. Geography still plays a role, although to a lesser degree compared to gas and oil. Wind energy, in particular, requires certain environmental conditions that aren’t prevalent in every city or region. The same is true for hydropower. Solar power is the most flexible green energy source in terms of where it can be used.
Just as gas and oil production has made the U.S. and Middle East energy powerhouses, the companies and countries that take on leadership roles now will most assuredly improve their global influence in the coming decades.
Government Subsidies Will Shift Away From Oil and Gas
Between 2016 and 2017, global subsidies for fossil fuels were approximately $300 billion annually. As more countries sign climate agreements and actively take steps toward reducing dependence on fossil fuels, these subsidies are expected to decline. In fact, those subsidies will need to be shifted to green energy production in order to hit carbon emission reduction goals in many areas.
Clean Energy Investment Will Climb
The move towards green energy will affect the economy in many ways, one of which is an investment. Rapid growth in green energy promises to be a sound long-term investment for individuals looking to build a retirement fund. New companies that need seed money and successful ventures like TPI Composites (a major wind turbine producer) that have gone public on the stock market offer ample opportunity for people to diversify their portfolio.
In terms of large-scale investment by countries, here again, China is leading the way. In 2018, 32% of global investment in renewables happened in China. They led the way in hydropower, wind and solar.
There’s no doubt about it that electricity generation is more green with each passing year. The capacity for renewable energy has outpaced fossil fuels for the last four years. The switch in electricity production will necessitate major infrastructure changes. Delivery of solar and wind energy is often the largest hurdle because the farms generating power are quite a ways away from the end consumer.
Given that many electrical grid systems are aging and in need of an update, the switch to renewable resources should help speed up the process. We will likely see significant development in a grid system that can adapt to the ebbs and flows of renewable energy and has load flexibility.
The wave of Green Energy Jobs
Green energy is a growing industry. Growing industries are a huge job creator. Right now there are roughly 11 million renewable energy jobs, the majority of which are in the solar and bioenergy sectors. We’re already seeing a serious uptick of jobs in the U.S. In California, there are five times more green energy jobs than fossil fuel jobs. Collectively across the country, there are three times more people working in the clean energy sector compared to fossil fuels.
The number of green energy jobs is expected to grow at a faster pace than many other industries. Between now and 2026 solar installer jobs are projected to increase by 105% and wind technician jobs will grow by 96%.
Lower Electricity Costs Over Time
Good paying jobs aren’t the only economic upside for consumers. A solar array is an investment that eventually pays for itself leading to 100% free electricity. Even if you don’t have solar panels on your roof, the cost of green energy plans from electric providers will likely go down or stay relatively flat as renewables become more commonplace and cheaper to implement. Renewable energy is also cheaper to operate than coal-fired plants, which is expected to help stabilize energy costs.
Impacts on the Environment for Better or Worse
There is an argument to be made that harnessing renewable energy has a negative impact on the environment. Take solar Voltaics for instance. Millions of panels are being produced, which requires a lot of energy. Then those parts need to be shipped, a process that increases carbon emissions.
However, over the long term, the manufacturing and shipping emit far fewer greenhouse gases than using fossil fuels as an energy source. Organizations like the Union of Concerned Scientists note that fossil fuels produce more:
- Air pollution
- Water pollution
- Damage to public health
- Wildlife loss
- Habitat loss
- Water use
- Land use
- Global warming emissions
Once solar panels, wind turbines, and hydropower plants are in place they generate little to no pollution or greenhouse gases. Renewable energy systems also require less maintenance than fuel systems, which helps reduce environmental impact.
As far as wildlife and habitat loss, efforts have been made to reduce impact here as well. An example of this is how wind turbine design has changed. Earlier wind turbines had a wider base made of latticework. They attracted birds, increasing the risk of bird death. Today, wind turbine design features a slim column that birds can’t land on. Efforts have also been made to place wind turbines where they will be away from migration paths.
All-in-all, green energy sources are expected to improve environmental conditions in the short-term and long-term.
You can benefit from green energy today by signing up for a 100% renewable energy plan from Verde Energy. We’re an industry leader in bringing affordable clean power to end consumers in the northeast. Check to see if green energy plans are available in your area.