Table of Contents
Renewable energy, turning energy harnessed through nature and transforming it into energy that is clean and usable. With little to no pollution, alongside the endless supply that originates from the sun and the wind.
However, the downside to renewable energy sources and such projects would be the amount of space that is required to construct such structures. Not every open land or wildland is available for such use as some may already be existing wildlife habitats or even of cultural importance.
Although it is a challenge to harvest renewable energy while continuing to protect wildlands, this can be attained through careful planning with proper policies put in place.
Good or Bad: Renewable Energy
Some may still be on the fence when asked about renewable energy. However the answer is clear – compared to fossil fuels, renewable energy is still better for the environment. Yet, there is a need to monitor and be careful with executing the construction of these systems.
Compared to using fossil fuels, renewable energy is cleaner and greener. Energy sources such as coal, oil and gas tend to emit pollution that will affect the air and water around the vicinity and subsequently impact the global pollution levels, subsequently inducing climate change. But, renewables release lesser pollution and emission, mostly contributed by manufacturing and constructing the structure and system.
The contrast is significant, with the burning of coal releasing greenhouse gases of approximately 3.6 pounds, while the use of wind power emits only one per cent of that.
Yet, it is not as easy as planting wind turbines in any location available for use. There are stories of backlash when installing in unsuitable places. Structures such as wind turbines, solar farms with many panels, and geothermal energy plants can affect wildlife and wildlands. To avoid such a situation, proper planning is required. Examples of such would be Florida. The solar industry came together with environmental groups to create solar sanctuaries with farms without disrespecting the environment.
The danger of Wind Turbines
With the wind turbines and birds sharing the same space, some people cannot help but worry about the safety of the flying creatures.
With the same thought in mind, the American Wind Wildlife Institute (AWWI) completed an analysis to get a better understanding of the impacts and relationship between wind turbines and birds. With data collected from 4340 turbines over 15 years, it was concluded that wind turbines actually cause lesser deaths than any other manmade sources like buildings and communication towers. To ensure the number of casualties amongst the birds is kept low, it is important to build wind farms far from the habitats and migration routes of such wildlife.
Lack of Space
Imagine filling up 13 million acres of land with solar panels, that would only be able to power the state of West Virginia. To gather enough energy to power a state or a country will require a large enough plot of land for the solar panels to be installed.
Countries like the United States of America, are blessed with space to cater for solar farms. However, proper planning is required to ensure the solar panels do not disturb the wildlands and wildlife.
A good location would be somewhere developed and near the transmission lines or roads. One example would be the Dry Lake solar zone located near Las Vegas. The solar farm installed in Nevada can power up to 46 thousand homes while maintaining a relatively lower environmental impact. It was constructed in an area with mining sites, industrial facilities, and many transmission lines helped to speed up the progress of the project.
Huge Amount of Water Needed
Another source of clean energy would be geothermal energy. With heat present on the Earth’s surface, it allows for one to harvest the heat to generate energy. However, to operate with geothermal plants means that plenty of water would be required. Water in the form of hot water, steam and geothermal fluids will be extracted to spin turbines using the heat generated. In turn, electricity will be generated. For some, water will also be required to cool down the turbines.
Alternatively, the turbines can be cooled with air using the method of “dry-cooling” to reduce the amount of water used. Such projects must ensure they prevent water wastage as much as possible.
Some prefer to take things into their own hands, and for those, they will opt to install renewables in their backyard. This way, it helps by not polluting the air while playing a part in fighting against climate change. However, not everyone is thrilled by the idea of it. Many are afraid of the way it looks and the potential problems and health risks that it may pose for its owners.
For those who are not fans of the wind turbines on their horizon, there will be one who finds the visual of wind turbines aesthetically pleasing.
Best Location for Energy Projects
Most of our lands have already been influenced by the development of housing buildings and industrial factories. There is no way time can be turned back to reverse the damage that has been inflicted on nature. However, such sites can be given a new life by serving as a base for renewable energy sites. After conducting their field research, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has located at least 40 million acres of available space in the US for renewable energy site construction to take place.
It is best if the switch from dirty and environmentally-unfriendly energy to clean energy takes place now. This way, it will protect the environment, as well as the well-being of the people. After taking steps toward generating cleaner energy, some countries have been able to produce clean power to generate nearly 10 per cent of electricity. Although building more such systems and farms would be good, it is also important to not lose sight of the bigger picture. Lands that serve as homes to wildlife should not be exchanged to build more renewables.