Until recently, there is no question that technologies such as wind turbines were less efficient than using fossil fuel. Why are we investing so much in renewable in terms of tax breaks and legislation for wind energy development? The reason is simple; it’s a significant and profitable investment in the future which reduces the U.S. dependence on imported energy.
However, to be genuinely equitable with renewable energy farms in our communities, it may be time to consider two things: 1) Change how lease payments are made on land hosting wind turbines to profit the community as a whole. 2) Examine the current policies to ensure ongoing investment is made and incremental growth can continue. Moratoriums are a stop-gap, not a long-term solution.
Here are some positive aspects of investing in renewable energy projects and personally investing in renewable energy stocks.
#1 The wind is a Pollution-free source of energy
Overall, using wind to produce energy has fewer effects on the environment than many other energy sources. This is because the power source, wind, does not release harmful emissions that pollute the air or water.
As technology develops and investment in wind turbines is made, it will lower emissions for electricity generation. Fossil fuel power plants that burn coal are being dismantled in some regions of the country that use wind generation.
Demolition of the Harbor Beach Michigan Coal Power Plant
#2 Wind and Solar Energy is Space Efficient
Wind turbines can operate in the community. Typically in open spaces such as farms and prairie lands. However, the area under and near the turbines can still grow crops and graze cattle.
Land that is taken is the pad area under the turbine and service access road easement. Power cables carrying the generated electricity are typically buried. This means that each turbine is efficient on a per kilowatt basis and can power thousands of homes and businesses.
Land availability does not constrain solar deployment. A report by the Department of Energy in 2021 estimated that by 2050, ground-based solar technologies will require a maximum land area equivalent to 0.5% of the contiguous U.S. surface area. This requirement could be met in numerous ways, including the use of disturbed or contaminated lands unsuitable for other purposes.
#2 Wind Energy Has A Fast Return on Investment (ROI)
For years wind energy detractors pointed to the high upfront cost and per-kilowatt contract cost of wind generation. However, with a useful life of about 20 years, wind turbines’ ROI (return on investment) is now paid back in 5-8 months.
While the initial cost of a wind turbine is high, the power source, wind, is free. Turbines also have relatively low running costs once they are constructed and need little maintenance.
#3 Wind Energy is Now Cheaper than Coal
One report examining the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) shows U.S. renewable energy prices continued falling over the past year. For example, both wind and solar hitting new lows, and costs fell below the cost of coal in 2018.
#4 Wind Energy is A New Source For High Tech Jobs
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics noted over the next ten years, wind turbine service technicians are the #1 fastest growing occupations with an average salary of $53,900.
While still an emerging job sector, the number of renewable energy jobs now exceeds 120,000. Today, over 530 factories in 43 states build wind and solar energy-related parts and supplies.
In 2021 the Biden Administration released a plan for the United States to get 40% of its electricity from solar energy by 2035, a significant jump from the 4% solar contributes today. “This would result in as many as 1.5 million people in the process,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm.
#5 Wind Energy Protects Our Future
Wind energy is only one of the solutions to reduce the proven effects of global climate change. By investing in the technology and its implementation, growth has meant that it’s become more cost-efficient in the energy produced.
This video presents a non-political outline of the situation that the planet finds itself in. It does not offer any solutions. This was first posted on Thumbwind in 2012. Eight years later, it resonates even more.
Some may consider it propaganda, while others feel it prophetic. Nevertheless, it’s required viewing in several classes in colleges throughout Michigan.
#6 Renewable Energy Stocks Prove A Wise Investment
Forbes has monitored Renewable Energy Stocks, including solar panel makers, lithium miners, and hydrogen fuel cell producers based in the United States. This class of assets has outpaced the market substantially, returning over 159 percent since the end of 2019, compared to 29 percent for the S&P 500.
However, the year-to-date results in 2021 have been underwhelming. Renewables are down around 2% year to far, compared to the broader S&P 500, which is up over 19% over the same period. In addition, rising bond rates, which have harmed futures and growth stocks, and potential delays in the approval of the U.S. infrastructure plan, which earmarks funding to speed the development of renewable energy solutions, are impacting this area negatively.
Sources: Wind Energy Development & Invest in Wind Energy
#1 – U.S. Energy Information Administration – EIA – Independent Statistics and Analysis. (n.d.). Retrieved December 03, 2020, from https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/wind/wind-energy-and-the-environment.php
#2 – Richard, M. (n.d.). The Energy Payback for a 2-Megawatt Wind Turbine That Lasts Over 20 Years Is… 5-8 Months. Retrieved December 03, 2020, from https://www.treehugger.com/energy-paypack-megawatt-wind-turbine-lasts-over-years-months-4858396
#3 – Singh, D. (n.d.). Levelized Cost of Energy and Levelized Cost of Storage 2019. Retrieved December 03, 2020, from https://www.lazard.com/perspective/lcoe2019
#4 – Fastest Growing Occupations: Occupational Outlook Handbook. (2020, September 01). Retrieved December 03, 2020, from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/fastest-growing.htm
#5 – Incubatepictures. (2012, February 11). There’s No Tomorrow (limits to growth & the future). Retrieved December 03, 2020, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOMWzjrRiBg
#6 – Team, T., 2021. Renewable Stocks Are Lagging Despite Big Opportunity. Should You Buy In?. [online] Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2021/10/11/renewable-stocks-are-lagging-despite-big-opportunity-should-you-buy-in/?sh=299b841b56bf
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