People around the world have been working to convert more of the energy we use into renewable energy. Despite longtime awareness of the negative effects burning and mining fossil fuels has on the environment, their efforts have been slow to take effect — until now. Something called “the big green bang” is starting, and it’s rocking the energy world like nothing before. Here’s what you need to know about how renewable energy is quickly overtaking fossil fuel as the world’s primary supply of energy.
What is “The Big Green Bang?”
Most car manufacturers have focused on building traditional cars that are fueled by gasoline, or hybrid models that use both electricity and gas. In January 2017 however, several car manufacturers announced that they would be putting most — if not all — of their research and development funds into electric cars instead of into hybrid models, as they had done previously. This was a major shock to the automotive industry, which has largely focused on gas-burning cars despite a few electric and hybrid models on the market, such as the Prius.
Torotrak, a UK-based company that was in the process of developing engines that used less fuel in an effort to be more eco-friendly, saw its shares drop 40 percent following the announcement. Its latest project has since been put on hold, and its staff has been reduced significantly to cope with the financial loss. The company isn’t the only one to take note of the seismic shift in the automotive industry, with major oil and gas providers across the world feeling similar pains in their financial departments as a result of the sudden shift towards renewable energy-fueled cars.
An interesting video detailing how renewable energy can be impacted by the Big Green Bang can be found here:
Dubbed “the big green bang” by the Financial Times, this wave of concern for the environment is a fast-moving change that is drastically altering the way companies think about manufacturing and fuel. In the last year, sales of plug-in electric cars have increased eight times faster than the overall car market. Renewable energy accounted for more than half of the new power generation capacity built worldwide for the second year in a row as well. Environmental activists and scientists warn that while this news is encouraging, oil and gas facilities are still being built and used, and even more significant change may take time. However, the large push to focus on electric cars shows that the industry is dedicated to choosing more environmentally friendly products in the future, providing the campaign to cease the use of fossil fuels with much-needed momentum.
Why is the Bang Happening?
There are several factors making it easier than ever for manufacturers in the automotive industry and beyond make the switch to renewable energy. While it typically takes between 50 and 60 years for widespread change in terms of fuel sources, the transition to renewable energy is happening much more quickly.
Many believe that climate change is a crisis for human survival. First, there is a conscious effort around the world to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Mining and drilling for coal and oil can seriously damage the environment by destroying habitats and polluting water. Mining in particular can be hazardous to the health of the people who are excavating these materials, leading to chronic breathing disorders and serious injury. Burning fossil fuels leads to harmful emissions that not only present a health risk, but also damage the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. Transporting fossil fuels presents another concern, with many people refusing to allow pipelines to be built for fear of dangerous leaks and contamination. Combined, these factors have led people to seek out alternative fuel methods in an effort to limit future damage to human and environmental health.
The big green bang is also driven by decreasing costs for using renewable energies. The cost of generating wind power, for example, has become 23% cheaper since 2010, while solar photovoltaic electricity fell by 73% within the same time period. The cost of lithium ion batteries, which are used to store the energy generated from renewable resources, is also decreasing. These unprecedented declines are making it easier for people to install and access renewable energy sources, contributing to their rising popularity.
Renewable energy has also become popular because of its widespread availability. Coal and oil are only found in certain parts of the world, with the cost of importing them high. The sun, wind, and heat of the earth, which can all provide reliable energy sources, are ubiquitous. Not only are they available anywhere in the world, they will also never run out in the same way that coal and oil will eventually be depleted. Any community across the world can use them for energy if the community has the right tools, such as generators and batteries for energy storage. As a result, renewable resources provide efficient sources of energy to the global population.