Environmental Impacts of Renewable Energy

Environmental Impacts of Renewable Energy
The amazing thing about renewable energy resources is that they do not deplete, or it will take a substantially long time to deplete them. These energy resources include energies such as hydroelectric energy, solar energy, wind energy, and geothermal energy. The major advantage of using these resources is that the environmental impact is extremely low when compared to the use of fossil fuels and other energy processes.
One of the most used renewable energy sources is hydroelectric power. When you look at all the environmental impacts of dams, etc., they seem to be a lot less devastating than those effects due to the use of coal and oil for producing energy. Some of the environmental impacts include major flooding due to the gigantic reservoirs that are formed by dams, which in turn makes certain areas of useful land worthless (Baird). Another impact is that the flow and quality of the water may be affected in ways that the dissolved oxygen content of the water will decrease, but this problem can be minimized with proper flow control (US Dept. of Energy). On the other hand, hydroelectric plants do not release any emissions such as carbon dioxide or sulfur dioxide, both of which increase to global warming and climate change. This is a tremendous advantage over fossil fuel use. Also, there isn?t any need to worry about nuclear disasters like there is with the use of nuclear energy.
Another renewable energy resource that has a lower amount of environmental impact is solar energy. Solar energy is created and used through the use of photovoltaic cells that collect the suns energy and then convert that energy into a useful form like electricity. As one would think when first asked about solar energy and photovoltaic cells, there aren?t many environmental impacts associated with it. The only main concerns involved with solar energy include the production of potentially toxic substances when photovoltaic cells, particularly gallium arsenide cells, are being manufactured (Baird). Also, there is a minor concern associated with the land use required to collect a substantial amount of energy, but one theory is that there is enough area on the roofs of every house and building in the world to supply an unfathomable amount of electricity (Baird). These environmental problems seem to be better than any other resource out there; no emissions, air pollution, water pollution, etc. When solar energy, a renewable energy resource, is compared to other forms of electricity production (based on environmental impacts), it is by far at the top of the list.

The next renewable energy resource to be discussed is wind energy. Wind energy is very efficient and has a very minute amount of environmental impact. One of the major impacts due to wind energy is the noise that it generates. The turbines are very loud when one is up close to them, but when at a distance of 300 m from the average turbine the noise is about the same as the amount of noise in a library (Baird). Another impact is that these turbines have killed many birds and bats throughout the years, but when compared to bird deaths due to cats, the number killed due to wind turbines is not even close (awea). These environmental effects seem to be negligible, due to the fact that the noise is too far away for most people to hear, and the amount of birds killed every year is not substantial. Also, like all of the other renewable energy resources, wind energy does not have all the emissions and water pollution that are otherwise created by the use of non-renewable resources.

One more renewable energy resource that has minimal amounts of environmental impact is geothermal energy. Unlike the other renewable resources mentioned, geothermal energy does produce land and water pollution. Silica, sulfates, sulfides, carbonates, silicates and halides are present in geothermal fluids and these chemicals will sometimes pollute ground water, and/or contaminating drinking water (Baird). Another environmental problem is that some geothermal plants release the gas hydrogen sulfide, a gas that smells like rotten eggs, and can actually be toxic or fatal when at higher concentrations (Baird). Although there are some issues involved with the use of geothermal energy, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions due to the resource is negligible. There are some problems due to the release of certain toxic chemicals, but this can be minimized through more sophisticated processes and equipment.

After going through all the environmental impacts due to renewable energy resources such as hydroelectric energy, solar energy, wind energy, and geothermal energy, there doesn?t seem to be as many devastating effects like those due to fossil fuel use. Not that there isn?t any negative impact on the environment due to renewable energy resources, but based on all the evidence, it seems that non-renewable resources such as coal, natural gas, and petroleum, all have a much more negative influence on the world around them.

Environmental Impacts of Renewable Energy 8.1 of 10 on the basis of 1513 Review.