Renewable energy: fact or fiction?

Renewable energy: fact or fiction?

Renewable energy explained.

Renewable energy. Unfortunately something that many people still don't agree with, or simply don't understand. Why? Because there are too many assumptions going around, many of which do sound believable. So you can't really blame anyone for thinking of a myth as a fact. So now’s the time to challenge these assumptions once and for all and we’re here for it! Read on to find out what is fact and what is fiction.

What is renewable energy?

Wind. Solar. Hydroelectric. Biomass. Renewable energy has taken root at the heart of the climate conversation. But how much do you actually know about renewable energy?

The Independent’s Decomplicated series, in partnership with E.ON Next, explores the renewable energy transition on the road to net zero, and answers fundamental questions relating to renewables, such as where it comes from and how it is harnessed.

Renewable energy is too expensive.

This is definitely fiction! It may be surprising to many that wind power is one of the cheapest forms of energy available. The reason behind people thinking this is a fact is that these renewable forms of energy might currently be slightly more expensive than gas. However, the cost of energy from gas is forecasted to increase while that generated from renewables is only going to go down even further. (1)

It is possible to power a plane solely using solar energy.

Fact! Sounds unbelievable right? But this was actually proved in 2016: The Solar Impulse 2 airplane (2) flew around the world in 25 days over the course of 5 months. The plane used a combination of the sun’s energy and two massive wings to help it glide through the air. Best part? There’s no engine!

“Wind farms kill birds and bats”.

Half fact, half fiction. Bear with us on this, this was something that used to happen on early wind farms in the USA, as they were poorly designed and not well placed. However, this led to a change that makes sure new turbines are less harmful to wildlife, and a huge amount of consideration goes into their placement. It’s said the number of birds killed by wind turbines are drastically less. (3)

We’ll never be able to leave natural gas.

Fiction! While the UK is still reliant on natural gas because it’s cheap, easy to use and there’s a good working system, it’s one of the many reasons why people believe we will never be able to leave natural gas. However, more renewable heating solutions are now becoming affordable, which will then reduce the dependence on gas for heat. Giving up natural gas altogether could become a real possibility. However, we’re not quite there yet!

The renewable energy industry is growing fast.

This is absolutely a fact! By 2025, the global market is expected to be worth $1,512.3.6 bn! (4) Renewable energy use had actually increased 3% in 2020 as demand for all other fuels declined. So we’re well on our way!

Wind turbines are not efficient.

Fiction! This is quite a common one you hear, however this all actually depends on the metrics and measurements used. Wind turbines are not able to extract all the power from the wind the same way coal-fired power stations are not able to capture all the energy from coal. So far neither method is 100%. But it’s worth saying wind turbines don’t break down very often and don’t require much downtime for maintenance. They can operate about 99% of the time.

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Published 15/11/2021