Renewable energy is viewed as the future of energy for not only our country but the world as a whole. Renewable energy, also known as alternative fuel, are energy sources that fall into one of the five main categories: biomass, hydropower, geothermal, wind, and solar (“Renewable” par 2). In the past, these sources of energy have been viewed as less favorable than the traditional energy sources known as fossil fuels because of the extensive difference in cost. Although this may have been true, the prices of the technology needed to use this energy have dropped exponentially (“6 Charts” par 1). For example, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, the price of land-based wind power dropped from approximately sixty-four cents in 1980 to right around five cents in 2015 per kilowatt hour (“6 Charts” Chart 1). This drop in prices has also affected solar panels, electric vehicles, and LED lighting (“6 Charts” par 4, 10, 13). In addition to the overall drop in prices, the government is also offering incentives for those who choose to make the switch to renewable energy. Although the incentives may vary from state to state, it is likely that the incentives will make the price of purchasing this technology much more financially realistic (“Energy” par. 1).
Although the price is a huge factor when deciding on an energy source, another essential factor that plays into the decision is the impact on our environment. With the increase in attention to climate change, many people are beginning to take notice of how their actions affect the future of our Earth. One major benefit of alternative energy is that it creates zero greenhouse gas emissions (“Renewable” par 5). The term greenhouse gas refers to a form of air pollution that traps heat in the atmosphere (“Greenhouse” par. 1). This trapped heat has caused warmer temperatures around the world and resulted in several factors of climate change including rising sea levels and drastic weather patterns (Mackenzie par. 9). In 2014, the total United States greenhouse gas emission was caused by 26 percent from transportation, 30 percent from electricity, 21 percent from industry, and 12 percent from commercial and residential use (“Greenhouse” chart 2). This means that by switching to renewable energy we could eliminate the emissions in our country completely, and help stop the global phenomenon that is climate change.
The decision between alternative energy and fossil fuels may seem clear cut to most considering how it could affect the environment, yet the transition still has not occurred. Will this transition ever be possible given how dependent we have become on traditional fuel sources?
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“Renewable Energy Sources Explained.” Independent Statistics & Analysis | U.S. Energy Information Administration. US Department of Energy, 2 Sept. 2016. Web. 08 Mar. 2017.