Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what we are most grateful for, from friends and family to pumpkin pie. At Ecotech Institute, we are additionally thankful for the innovation and hard work that makes clean energy technology a reality. In honor of the holiday, we’d like to give thanks to renewable energy for having the power to:
1. Save precious resources
Unlike some traditional energy sources, wind power uses no water to generate electricity. In fact, wind power saves 226 gallons of water for every American each year, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). Solar energy also reduces power sector water withdrawals by 294 billion gallons and water consumption by 7.6 billion gallons, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
2. Help us breathe easier
Renewable energy has the power to literally help us breathe easier. According to AWEA, U.S. wind farms currently offset the emission of 132 million tons of CO2 annually. And by reducing pollution, wind energy saved the United States approximately $7.3 billion in healthcare costs in 2015 alone. Solar also plays a part in reducing CO2 emissions — according to the DOE, solar currently reduces pollutants to save the U.S. $167 billion in avoided health and environmental damages. Efforts to boost energy efficiency have contributed to the reduction of pollution as well — the DOE reports that appliance standards have helped avoid 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
3. Bring new revenue to landowners
Through the rise of wind energy, landowners, particularly farmers, have been able to produce additional revenue. AWEA reported that U.S. wind farms pay $222 million each year to farmers and other land owners.
4. Have a global effect
When we talk about renewable energy, we sometimes tend to focus on what’s happening in our own backyard and forget about the bigger picture. Internationally, renewable energy supporters have made great strides to benefit the planet and the global economy.
- According to the Global Wind Report, at the end of 2015, the worldwide total cumulative installed electricity generation capacity from wind power amounted to 432,883 MW, an increase of 17 percent compared to the previous year.
- According to the International Energy Agency (IRENA), worldwide solar PV installed capacity amounted to 51 gigawatts in 2015, up from around 40 gigawatts in the two preceding years.
- IRENA also reported in May that the renewable energy industry employs a total 9.4 million people around the world.
- Renewable energy technology has also made it possible to bring power to off-grid locations around the world, bringing education opportunities and access to better health, among other benefits to these communities.