The 21st century promises to be the century for renewable energy sources to take the lead and build a new energy economy, with wind energy leading the way.
We’re excited to share an inspiring new report about the remarkable shift to renewable energy that is now underway across the globe.
While much of the news we hear about the environment is doom and gloom, in this article Lester R. Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute and author of the book, World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse, outlines how rapidly renewable energy options are developing — especially wind and solar power, but also electric vehicles, hydropower and geothermal resources.
Brown demonstrates that a transition is now well underway from an economy built on fossil fuels to a world powered by renewable energy. Long-term, this is great news for reducing air pollution, slowing climate change and building an economy that is independent of ever-more-expensive imported oil. And the global renewable energy boom means thousands of new jobs in the coming years.
For example, most of the electricity in the United States currently comes from burning coal, which is a major cause of climate disruption. But as astonishing as it may seem, Brown points out that coal use is already on the decline. The United States is actually burning less coal than we were just five years ago. Meanwhile, the growth of wind power is astonishing—electricity from wind turbines is increasing by 40 to 50 percent a year!
If we make a full commitment to renewable energy, Brown writes, by 2020, the world could produce all our electricity from solar, wind, hydropower and geothermal, and we could phase out fossil fuels.
“For the first time since the Industrial Revolution began,” he says, “we are investing in sources of energy that can last as long as the Earth itself.” — MOTHER
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The great energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy is underway. As fossil fuel prices rise, as oil insecurity deepens, and as concerns about pollution and climate instability cast a shadow over the future of coal, a new world energy economy is emerging. The old energy economy, fueled by oil, coal, and natural gas, is being replaced with an economy powered by wind, solar, and geothermal energy.
We inherited our fossil-fuel-based world energy economy from the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. The nineteenth century was the century of coal. During the twentieth century oil took the lead. The twenty-first century will belong to wind.
It is time to design an energy economy for the twenty-first century, one that is carbon free, pollution free, and that does not require water for cooling as thermal and nuclear plants do. Once we define our goals, the field narrows quickly. Coal, oil, and natural gas are an important part of our energy past, but not of our energy future.