Debunking 3 Common Myths about Renewable Energy
Renewable energy has long faced skepticism and criticism, about their variability, stability and potential for large-scale deployment. However, many of these critiques are not sufficient to invalidate the need to rapidly increase renewable energy capacity globally – and the landscape is changing incredibly quickly! Let’s debunk 3 of the most common myths that are used to create doubt about whether renewable energy is truly sustainable.
While there is a lot to be excited about and while accelerating the transition to renewable energy is still an urgent priority, we have to also keep in mind the valid concerns related to renewable energy – check out a related post: Exploring Concerns About Renewable Energy.
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Myth 1: Renewable energy is too expensive
Why this is false: The cost of renewable energy has dropped in price in the last 10 years, with the price of solar alone falling 89% in a decade. Prices have fallen so low, quickly, that on-shore wind turbines and large-scale solar power are often cheaper or comparable to conventional fossil fuel and non-renewable sources – and that is largely without the subsidies and incentives that the fossil fuel industry has received for decades.
Did you know?
According to a 2020 report by IRENA, renewables are now the cheapest sources of electricity globally. This milestone presents countries that are heavily reliant on coal as a cheap source of power to increase the pace of their transition while reducing electricity costs and meeting energy needs.
Myth 2: Renewable energy can’t deliver when there isn’t sunshine or wind, making the grid unreliable
Why this is false: Yes, solar and wind energy are intermittent – but this doesn’t necessarily have to make the energy grid unreliable. Even with fossil fuel sources, electricity grids must be designed to manage variability and maintain a balance between generation and demand. Here are some ways to manage intermittency:
- Using a diverse combination of renewable energy sources so that one can step in for another when needed
- Advances in energy storage — battery storage technology is improving, and costs for some technologies like lithium-ion batteries have declined by almost 90% in the past decade
- Demand flexibility and smart demand response strategies could help eliminate steep rise and falls in energy demand throughout the course of a day and help balance supply and demand
Energy 101 terminology: How are overall costs of electricity generation from different sources compared? Using a measure called the levelized cost of electricity or LCOE. Lazard and the Energy Information Administration are two reliable sources that make this data available.
Myth 3: Transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy will result in job losses
Why this is false: IRENA estimates global jobs in renewable energy are expected to reach 42 million by 2050, more than triple the current level, while policies advocating for energy efficiency can generate millions of additional jobs. Although there can be a net positive increase of jobs, there may also be a loss of 5 million jobs in the fossil fuel sector, which underscores a need for a just transition that ensures that new clean energy opportunities are available in the right places and accessible to those employed in the current energy sector.
The Brookings institute also found that in the United States, “workers in clean energy earn higher and more equitable wages when compared to all workers nationally”
Did you know?
According to a recent report by the African Development Bank (AFDB) and IRENA, an “integrated policy framework” built around the energy transition could unlock Africa’s vast potential, opening new sustainable energy investments and growing its economy by 6.5% by 2050. The solar sector alone could also employ 3.3 million Africans by 2050.