By Akul Ranjan. Edited by Arjun Chandrasekar.
Fossil fuels and renewable energy sources are the two distinct categories of energy sectors. Fossil fuels are the more widely known and used ones but have greater drawbacks when compared to the developing usage of renewable energy. As the consequences and diminishing of fossil fuels become more apparent, companies and governments alike are looking for a switch to renewable energy forms.
Fossil fuels are energy deposits formed from the leftovers of living creatures and fossils, hence the name fossil fuels. This includes coal, gas, oil, natural gas, and biomass. When animals decompose, their bodies turn into forms of hydrocarbon material such as natural gas or coal and are very flammable substances that produce energy when burned. Fossil fuels are the most abundant energy sources, however, due to their need to be burnt to produce energy, they damage the environment. In fact, fossil fuels caused 74% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2019. Currently, 34% of energy production in the United States is natural gas, 30% is coal, 20% is nuclear, 15% is renewables, and 1% is oil. Fossil fuel reserves are rapidly diminishing, causing a search and switch to renewable energy sources.
As the flaws of fossil fuels come to light, renewable energy sources are gaining ground. These energy sources replenish over time, such as windmills, hydroelectric, solar, and geothermal energy. For example, solar energy is the harnessing of the Sun’s UV rays, an infinite source of energy. Renewables regenerate during the average span of one human life, compared to fossil fuels that slightly revolve over millions of years. Renewables also pose a threat to the environment, and instead naturally use nature to produce energy. Unfortunately, the start-up costs of renewable energy infrastructure are expensive, but more money is saved in the long run against fossil fuels. Renewable energy sources also require specific terrains in order to work, such as areas with high internal Earth temperatures of geothermal energy.
Progress of Energy
Renewable energy is growing faster than fossil fuels, Iceland and Norway generate almost all of their energy needs from renewable energy sources. Forty-seven other countries have at least 50% of their energy sources from renewable sources. Biden has outlined development in clean energy in his Build-Back-America infrastructure plan, aiming for 50% of new car sales being electric. This would be backed by a 5 billion dollar plan adding EV facilities around America. The pandemic facilitated growth in renewable energy, wind power grew 12% and solar power grew 23%. As new technologies and methods develop, renewable energy will prosper as well.