As we celebrate Earth Month, it’s exciting to
know that transitioning to renewable energy sources means positive
environmental benefits for people and our planet.
In 2022, the United States endured an
alarming 18 weather disasters with repairs costing nearly $1 billion. Research
shows that low air quality correlates to increases in the severity and number of
extreme weather events as well as public health concerns? But, there is a silver
lining. If we can reach 80% renewable energy generation by 2050, we have the
potential to save $1.2 trillion in health and environmental costs. It’s a lofty goal, but it’s
worth striving for.
According to the American Clean Power Association (ACP), renewable energy
sources, including wind, solar, and storage, currently provide 15 percent of
the nation’s electricity. With tremendous wind and solar resources, the
Midwest alone has 32,400 Megawatts (MW) of low-cost, clean, energy currently installed, and
another 514 utility-scale clean energy
thousand MW in development. This development will
support our planet in many ways.
Here are 3 Ways Clean Energy Supports a
Clean energy supports a healthy planet by reducing
carbon emissions that contribute to air and water pollution, decreasing water
consumption, and benefiting farmland by promoting healthy soil.
Greenhouse Gas Emmissions (EPA)
Clean Energy Increases Air Quality
The use of fossil fuels releases large
amounts of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, which pollute
our environment and decrease our air quality. Globally, we have now reached a
record high of 37.5 billion metric tons of carbon emissions. Carbon emissions cause smog and acid rain and contribute to
rising temperatures and extreme weather
Generating more clean energy will allow us to
move away from fossil fuel-based energy and thereby reduce greenhouse gas
emissions from the electric sector. ACP reports that our currently installed
wind, solar, and energy storage projects have avoided more than 435.5 million
metric tons of carbon dioxide - that’s the equivalent of taking more than 94
million cars off the road.
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Clean Energy Reduces Water Use
Expanding the use of clean energy resources also supports our nation's water conservation goals. According to ACP, clean energy projects avoided 218 billion gallons of water consumption. Solar and wind energy systems do not require water for power generation, whereas coal and natural gas power plants require a large amount of water for cooling. Expanding clean energy across the U.S. will result in water consumption reductions and positive environmental impacts.
Global water withdrawal in the energy sector in the Net Zero Scenario, 2021 and 2030 (IEA)
Clean Energy Improves Soil Health
Agriculture, particularly for food production,
relies on healthy soil to support vegetation and livestock. Fortunately, solar farms support agriculture by promoting healthy
habitat for growing crops or
other beneficial vegetation underneath and around panels. Agrivoltaics enable
land to be used for growing certain crops while harvesting the sun for crops. The
shade from the panels lowers soil temperatures
and increases the soil’s ability to absorb nutrients. Harvesting the sun gives
the soil a chance to rest and rejuvenate, making the soil richer and reduces
fertilizer and pesticide use that contribute to water pollution.
The bottom line is that the future of our
planet depends on transitioning to and embracing sustainable and reliable clean
energy. A clean energy future means supporting carbon reduction, water
conservation, better air quality, and weather stabilization. Clean, affordable,
reliable renewable energy delivers on all these important metrics.