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Are renewables really the answer?

By: Eshita Gupta

We have all come to an agreement that renewables are crucial and are the only way to successfully prevent the doom of this planet. Renewables have become the center key for most democratic candidates who propose investing trillions for it.

renewables
Image credits: Kenueone

The solution to global warming seems very clear and straightforward, solar panels on every roof, wind turbines and increased  usage  of electric cars. This way we can reduce the overall carbon emission and stop global warming.

Then, what’s the problem?

The two most prominent renewable energy sources are solar panels and wind turbines. The first problem is around land use. Electricity from solar roofs costs about twice as much as electricity from solar farms, but solar and wind farms require huge amounts of land.

That, along with the fact that solar and wind farms require long new transmission lines, and are opposed by local communities and conservationists trying to preserve wildlife, particularly birds. It’s been said that wind farms contribute to killing millions of birds every year but it’s opposed by the argument, so do house cats but looking at the bigger picture, wind turbines kill rare endangered bird species which need to be protected.

What about the electricity from the dams?

A bigger problem is that there are many other uses for the water that accumulates behind dams, namely irrigation, and cities.

And because the water in our rivers and reservoirs is scarce and unreliable, the water from dams for those other purposes is becoming ever-more precious.

The intermittent nature of  renewables

Solar panels and wind turbines both are intermittent. They are both dependent upon the environment. When the weather is bad, we can’t count on solar panels  for electricity and not on the wind turbines either. When the sun stops shining and the wind stops blowing, you have to quickly be able to ramp up another source of energy.

Furthermore, solar farms can have severe ecological effects, building a solar farm is similar To building an economical farm, by clearing out natural forests. Also, we have no guarantee if solar farms and wind turbines may actually help us generate electricity when we’ve ran out of all our natural resources.

The problems regarding renewables cannot be solved by any range of technology as these problems are natural. You can make solar panels cheaper and wind turbines bigger, but you can’t make the sun shine more regularly or the wind blow more reliably.

Should we turn to nuclear energy?

France produces one-tenth of the carbon emissions per unit of electricity and pays little more than half for its electricity. How? Through nuclear power.  Contrary to the headlines, nuclear power plants cost the same as renewables adding the cost of transmission in renewables.

The uranium used as fuel in power plants and as material for bombs can create one million times more heat per its mass than its fossil fuel and gunpowder equivalents. Allover, nuclear energy has proven to be completely safe in terms of working. As nuclear plants produce heat without fire, they emit no air pollution in the form of smoke.  nuclear energy seems to be a viable solution. 

    Eshita Gupta

    I'm passionate about advocating for environmental issues and I'm trying to use my voice to make this world a more sustainable and peaceful place for all of us! Find me on twitter @aslytherinwolff

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