Renewable energy covers a wider segment of energy technologies which may range from solar energy, wind and geothermal energy that are derived from the sources which are never ending. These sources of renewable energies can easily be replenished in stipulated intervals. In the modern day world most of the developed countries depend on non-renewable or exhaustible sources of energy such as fossil fuel in order to empower their economy. However, with the passage of time people are becoming more aware about the environment and ensuring sustainability for the future generation. As a result of this the use of renewable energy is increasing. However, it is an widely argued fact that the faster growth in the use of renewable energy may not be beneficial for the developing countries. In this context the two most relevant issues that may arise in those countries will be discussed throughout this assignment. The first and foremost issue which has always been argued that the environmental issues that may arise because of the use of renewable energy. The use of solar energy gives rise to the emission of some poisonous products during the process of obtaining. While producing the modules and peripheral components cancerous products and acids like CO2, SO2 and NOx are released. These affect the environment adversely. On the other hand, another key issue which will be discussed in this assignment is the economic impact. The use of renewable energy is expensive because the machineries and equipments which are required to fetch energy are quite advanced and expensive. In the next part of the assignment these two issues will be discussed elaborately with arguments, counter-arguments and refutation.
Issue 1: Environmental
The increasing use of renewable energy may pose significant threat before the environment. the use of solar energy significantly impact over the environment. a few poisonous elements like, CO2, SO2 may be generated during the production, operation and maintenance of the equipments. It is also risky to use the photovoltaic equipments because they are associated with the lethal materials like arsenic, cadmium and gallium.
There are some environmental problems which are associated with the production of energy through winds. These include the noise which is generated by the wind turbines. Due to the sign reflection it may cause interference in the electromagnetic communication system as well. Sometimes modifications are made in the standard air circulation systems caused by the turbines may also impact on the local climate and give rise to micro climates.
The use of geothermal energy as a source of renewable energy repels dissolved gases. These gases are released to the environment amalgamated with the stream of water. In most of the cases these are sulphurous gases like H2S. These possess an unpleasant smell and are corrosive to the health of human being. In Italy and Mexico it has been observed that the emission of geothermal energy includes toxic elements that may cause anemia or luekemia. Whenever a larger amount of fluid is extracted from the soil there lies a chance of occurrence of some disturbances. In such areas water must be injected in the soil so as to avoid landslide.
According to author the magnitude of the environmental threat caused by the increasing use of renewable energy is much less than that of the harm caused by the use of non-renewable energy. The permanently increasing demand for electricity all over the world causes a great degradation in the environment. The emission from the thermal power plants severely damages the quality of air as well as the human health. These thermal power plants make use of the fossil fuel which includes mineral coal, oil or natural gas. Whenever these items are burned they liberate sulphur, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and many other toxic elements to the environment. this problem of emission is not restricted in a particular region or country it is spread throughout the world. For example in the year 2003, 2200 tons of nitrogen dioxides were released from the Campo Grande thermal power station alone. It also generated 4400 tons of nitric acid which is the key reason behind acid rains. As per the estimates it has been forecasted that the implementation of a natural gas thermal power station in the Mato Grosso do Sul State will generate nearky 3.93 million tons of carbon dioxide which may harm the environment significantly. The use of these non renewable energy also caused acid rains. The acid rain has affected 18 thousand lakes, 90 thousand kilometre stretch of river water and 70 thousand wells in Sweden. However, some of the theorists argued that the acid rain was mainly caused by the remedial measures taken by Great Britain to reduce environmental degradation. They installed higher chimneys that ushered the pollutants towards the Nordic countries.
Although it is an widely argued fact that the use of renewable energy may pose some threat to the global environment but it is also a matter of fact that this impact is lesser that that of the impact caused by the use of non-renewable energies. Moreover, renewable energy also contributes towards the well being of the environment as well. For instance, though generating energy through photovoltaic cells and wind mills may damage the environment but it reduces the emission of green house gases. Hence the environmental damages caused by the wind and solar energy plants are considered to be less significant in comparison to those plants which are linked to hydro or thermal power.
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Issue 2: Economic
The use of renewable energy also impacts over the economy. This is because the raw forms of renewable energy is free as well as infinite, but the materials and equipments required to collect, process and transform the energy to the end users are not. Presently the cost associated with the use of renewable energy is much higher than that of the fossil based energy or nuclear energy. On an added notion, with the traditional designs the advancements in the technologies of renewable energy sector also requires adequate investments. The economists use the method of levelised energy costs while comparing different technologies. This levelised energy cost estimate depicts that the cost of production of renewable energy including the capita, continuous operation and return on investment, is much higher than the cost associated with renewable energy.
A few indirect costs are also involved with the use of renewable energy. the emissions of poisonous elements from the photovoltaic cells or the use of other components is causing harm to human health. The health cost associated for treating these individuals should also be taken into consideration.
It can further be very expensive to remove the poisonous elements from the environment and establish cleanliness. Some of the gaseous materials may seem to be non-removable. Further advanced technologies which are used in the production of renewable energies requires substantial investment which is quite problematic for the developing countries.
In order to counter the argument as well as from a feasible view point it can be stated that, it is the responsibility of the human being to encourage the use of renewable energy. It is also quite relevant that the traditional sources of energy are cost effective and thereby benefits the economy, generates employment and increases the purchasing power of the consumers. However, a widespread research and development in the sector of renewable energy will also be advantageous because with the advancements the costs associated with the production of it will be reduced. The more it will be used the easier it will be to use the economies of scale. For instance it can be observed that the water power has already become the largest source of renewable energy in the world. In the year 2016 it has provided 16% of the total electricity in the world. In favourable conditions the production of electricity from the water power is significantly cheaper often cheaper than the fossil fuel also. Henceforth the use of renewable energy should certainly be promoted by the concerned governments of the respective countries.
The cost associated with the production of renewable energy is decreasing with the passage of time. Presently it may seem to be not be very beneficial for the developing countries but in future with the further progress in the technological segments it can be expected that renewable energy could be produced at a much cheaper rate. In fact presently in some countries like Brazil, Mexico it is being produced at a cheaper rate.
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On a concluding note it can be stated that in the era of globalisation and technological advancement the level of pollution is depicting an increasing trend. If it continues in such a manner then in the long run the human race will face extinction. As a result it could be suggested to make use of renewable energy which will contribute in reducing the environmental pollution and usher the entire community towards sustainable future.