Why Renewable Energy Is Not Popular
What obstacles keep us from switching to renewable energy?
Stranded Cost: Across the US, we already have been paying some one trillion dollars for the infrastructure for fossil fuels. There are people who say that, if we were to switch entirely to renewable fuels, this huge investment could be ‘stranded’, unless we would find ways to include it. This is why there is opposition against switching to renewable fuels as this would create a huge economic disincentive. There are others who argue that abandoning this existing infrastructure gradually would be a lot cheaper than giving it up immediately.
Upfront Cost: There are renewable sources (wind power, hydropower, and geothermal power) that are currently (practically) competitive with fossil fuels, but solar energy continues to be pretty much more costly than coal-based electricity. The budgetary mechanisms to that allow renewable fuel systems to be paying for themselves in a natural way simply do not exist yet.
Politics: The companies and people who now are making money from fossil energy sources just don’t want to give up their profits. They do their utmost to avoid that, and you can read more on this issue on our political advocacy pages. NMSEA is a member of the CFCAE (Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy)
Environmental Impact: All important sources of energy are have a considerable impact on our environment (material and land use for example) and though renewable energy will have far less impact than traditional energy, there are people think it will be significant. Hydropower is actually already widely opposed because of the impact massive dams have on wildlife and fish.
No Inexpensive Storage: Fossil fuels are easy storable. Renewable energy sources though, particularly wind and solar, come with fuels that are difficult to store. So developing practical storage solutions is a crucial element and a continuing research goal.
In the meantime, however, it was proven that, even with its intermittency, some 25 to 45 percent of all electricity provided by our existing electrical grid might be coming from wind and solar without seeing the reliability of the existing grid being compromised.
This means that there should be nothing withholding us from adding renewable energy resources right now. Some wind and solar energy plants may additionally benefit from already existing hydropower storage capacities, which would include that the energy may be used for pumping water back into the reservoirs, in order to allow the water later to be used for generating electricity in the hydropower dams.