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Renewables Outstrip Fossil Fuels for the First Time (and Why It’s Important)

Advocates for renewable energy celebrated last week when official figures showed the UK gained most of its energy from renewables for the first time. Solar, wind, tidal and nuclear powered our homes and businesses more than coal, gas and oil. That National Grid said the landmark point came at 1pm Wednesday 7th June. It was also revealed that renewables broke another record of 18.7 gigawatts produced. The mix will fluctuate depending on demand, but it’s hoping this trend will continue. Globally, energy from solar panels is skyrocketing. Its linear growth was underestimated. since 2002, it’s increased exponentially promising potentially unlimited cheap energy for everybody. But why is this landmark important?

It’s Good for the Planet

The more renewables we use, the lower our carbon emissions will be. Fossil fuels such as oil and gas pump out a large amount of carbon. While some hail gas as the only “clean” fossil fuel – it produces something like 50% less carbon than oil – in many ways it is worse than coal. Using renewables reduces our emissions considerably, making it easier to adhere to the Paris Agreement. It contributes our commitment to a greener world, a healthier population, and limiting the global average temperature rise. We know the potential consequences of climate change and have done for many decades.

It’s Good for Energy Security

Renewable EnergyFossil fuel prices (especially oil) have been volatile over the last decade thanks to political instability in the oil-producing countries of the Middle East and South America. Political instability is not the only reason for volatile pricing though. It’s now harder for fossil fuel prospectors to find and acquire new pockets of gas and oil due to dwindling supplies. It’s expensive and dangerous to mine it. When we produce our own energy, we are not reliant on foreign powers to supply it to us. Therefore, we have little concern about the volatility of supply which can put the economy at risk.

Renewables will Never Run Out

We’ve enjoyed the benefits of fossil fuel for over a century. The Industrial Revolution was built on coal. Even scientists in the late 19th century realised that this was a finite resource and urged governments to look at ways of making it last or seeking other forms of fuel. Technology has come on a long way since then. Coal is all but dead in the developed world and speculators say there are no more than a couple of decades of oil left. The sun will last for a few billion years; the wind will never stop and neither will the tides. The UK is a great place to develop tidal power due to our position in the Atlantic.

It’s Good for the Economy

Because oil price is a commodity subject to all the volatile elements mentioned above, it has a potentially negative effect on the economy when prices skyrocket. We can expect energy prices from renewable sources to be relatively stable most of the time. After all, the sun won’t die anytime soon and we don’t expect weather patterns in the UK to change so much that our tides and wind will undergo a dramatic shift. From any perspective, these stable sources of energy represent a stable supply and a stable economy too.

Renewables is Still Emerging Technology

It’s widely recognised that emerging technologies create more jobs than they cost. Renewables have the potential to provide even more jobs than it presently does, create new start-up businesses and the big employers of the future. Globally, there are thousands of people employed in green industries from solar panel manufacturing, wind turbine planning, energy distribution and much more. Green energy is here to stay and it is only going to get bigger, more important to the economy and provide plenty of stable jobs.