There are a great many reasons for investing in renewable energy, especially economic. When you use a renewable energy source you not only save on your energy bills, but actually end up earning money from the unused energy that you sell. So in addition to making savings you are helping the environment by selling ‘clean’ energy to the electricity companies. You are also stealing a march on others who will one day have to invest in renewable energy as there won’t be a big enough supply of fossil fuels to go around. At this point the prices will soar as demand increases. It is a wise investor who gets in early!


Today there is a very wide choice of high-tech options allowing us to use the forces of nature to supply us with the necessary energy and to avoid the use of the world’s rapidly depleting stock of fossil fuels. There are devices available for residential, domestic, industry and agricultural use. Many industries are making use of solar and wind power to replace their dependence on fossil fuels, to decrease their carbon footprint and to leave our children a cleaner planet.

Environmental Benefits

Using fossil fuels—coal, oil and natural gas—to make electricity corrupts the air; consumes and pollutes water; damages plants and animal life; creates toxic wastes, and causes global warming. Using nuclear fuels poses serious safety risks. Renewable energy resources can provide many immediate environmental benefits by avoiding these impacts and risks and can help conserve fossil resources for future generations. Of course, renewable energy also has environmental impacts.
For example, biomass plants produce some emissions, and fuel can be harvested at unsustainable rates. Wind farms change the landscape, and some have harmed birds. Hydro projects, if their impacts are not mitigated, can greatly affect wildlife and ecosystems. However, these impacts are generally much smaller and more localised than those of fossil and nuclear fuels. Care must nevertheless be taken to mitigate them.

Air Pollution

Clean air is essential to life and good health. Air pollution aggravates asthma; the number one children’s health problem. Air pollution also causes disease and even premature death among vulnerable populations including children, the elderly, and people with lung disease.
A 1996 analysis by the Natural Resources Defence Council of studies by the American Cancer Society and Harvard Medical School suggests that small particles in the air may be responsible for as many as 64,000 deaths each year from heart and lung disease.

Sulphur oxides

Electricity production, primarily from burning coal, is the source of most emissions of sulphur oxides. These chemicals are the main cause of acid rain, which can make lakes and rivers too acidic for plant and animal life. Acid rain also damages crops and buildings. National reductions in sulphur oxides required by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 may not be sufficient to end damage from acid rain in NE United States. SO2 is also a primary source of fine particles in the air.

Nitrogen oxides

Burning fossil fuels to produce electricity or to power transportation emits nitrogen oxides (NOx) into the air. In the presence of sunlight, nitrogen oxides combine with other chemicals to form ground-level ozone (smog). Both nitrogen oxides and ozone can irritate the lungs, cause bronchitis and pneumonia, and decrease resistance to respiratory infections. In addition, research shows that ozone may be harmful even at levels allowed by current regulations.

Carbon dioxide and other air pollutants

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most important of the greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming by trapping heat in the earth’s atmosphere. Traditional electricity generation is the largest industrial source of carbon dioxide emissions and a close second to the transportation sector.

Burning fossil fuels, especially coal and oil, produces a host of other air pollutants in addition to those discussed above. Among them are:

      • Carbon monoxide (CO): can cause headaches and place additional stress on people with heart disease.
      • Hydrocarbons (HC):come from unburned fossil fuels and contribute to smog.
      • Large airborne particles: such as dust, soot, smoke, and other suspended matter, which are respiratory irritants.
      • Small airborne particles: which have been linked to chronic bronchitis, aggravated asthma, and premature deaths.

Coal and oil contain metals like mercury, arsenic, and lead

Although only trace amounts of these metals are present in coal and oil, they are difficult to catch using pollution-control equipment. Utility coal burning accounts for 40,000 tons of toxic air pollutants per year. For example, coal plants are responsible for over a third of the 150 tons of mercury that are released into the air each year. Coal is the single biggest contributor to anthropogenic climate change. The burning of coal is responsible for 46% of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide and accounts for 72% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the electricity sector.
Once deposited in nature, toxic metals can accumulate in the fatty tissue of animals and humans. They can cause severe health problems, such as mental retardation, nervous system damage, and developmental disorders.

Water, Land, and Thermal Pollution

Energy production and use also have profound impacts on water and land. There are direct impacts, such as oil spills and coal mining, and indirect impacts from air emissions settling out on land and water. Land and water damage can occur throughout the life cycle of fossil fuels, from mining, drilling, and refining, to shipping, use, and disposal.
Coal mining contributes to land and water pollution. New mining practices sometimes level mountains and toxic chemicals brought to the surface during the mining process can leach into water supplies. Railroad and barge transportation of coal releases coal dust and is vulnerable to accidents. Finally, after the coal is burned, ash is left as a waste product.
Drilling for oil and natural gas can also pollute the immediate environment. Oil spills kill plants and animals, often leaving waterways and the surrounding shores uninhabitable.

Fossil fuels produce heat energy when burned, some of which is used to generate electricity. Because the process is inefficient, about two-thirds of the heat is released to the atmosphere or to water used as a coolant. Heated water, once returned to rivers or lakes, can upset the aquatic ecosystem; and water intake, out-flow, and cooling systems can trap and kill fish and fish larvae.



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