Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency and the Economy: Some Common Myths
This week, the numbers on clean energy industry growth were released in the form of the Pew Foundation’s ‘Who’s winning the clean energy race’ report. The U.S. fell behind China to #2 last year but this year we come in at #3, behind both China and Germany. You can read the report here. What does that mean for us? It means we are falling behind! With the clean energy industry expected to reach $2.3 trillion over the next ten years (the industry achieved a record breaking $243 billion in 2010 alone!), it means we are missing a significant investment opportunity. In the midst of a recovering economy, government and businesses have forgotten that we still need to cultivate renewable sources of energy. All efforts recently have been aimed at spurring the economy, using cheap fuel, creating jobs, and lessening the amount of foreign oil we consume. But can we get energy from clean energy sources, develop new clean energy technologies, implement energy efficient policies AND have a thriving economy? Some say no, some say yes. We’ve highlighted the questions that seem to be on everyone’s mind and provided you with the questions to those answers.
Myth: Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency stunt job growth.
Reality: FALSE- Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency are industries that are growing exponentially. The Obama administration has estimated that occupations in clean energy and sustainability will grow by an impressive 52% by 2016. The solar power industry alone doubled its workforce between 2009 and 2010 and expects to grow its employees by 25% this year. Since at least 85 countries have established clean energy targets of some form and 30 U.S. states have adopted renewable electricity standards (a required amount of electricity that must be generated by a renewable source), logic tells us that those industries will keep on growing and growing. This growth could come in the form of jobs for Americans. Read about the Alaska Conservation Alliance’s REEL report which shows how investing in energy efficiency in the Railbelt region could generate over 9,000 jobs.
Myth: Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency are expensive.
Reality: ITS A GREY AREA- Clean Energy source CAN be more expensive, when you take into account all the bells and whistles that go into your electric bill. However, the costs of clean energy continue to go down as technologies improve and there are some markets (such as Italy, Hawaii and other parts of the US) where clean energy sources can actually compete, NOW, with traditional sources without the use of subsidies. As the industry gets bigger, the supply chain will grow causing the prices of equipment to decrease- and lower energy costs will resort. So while it MAY be more expensive now, the price is projected to keep going down. In addition, it will be a stably priced source of energy. On the other hand, natural gas and oil keep getting more expensive and their markets fluctuate based on many different factors. Energy efficiency, while it does have an upfront cost, will save you money over its lifetime.
Myth: Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency are space aged technologies that aren’t practical to us.
Reality: FALSE- There are many clean energy and energy efficient technologies that are in use and employed currently. Energy efficiency allows you to reduce your energy consumption use and to use energy more efficiently. There are many ways that you can do this in your home or office, see our ‘Energy Efficiency’ page for more tips.
Clean Energy is very widely used nowadays and, in 2009, accounted for 8% of the total U.S. energy consumption. Even the president said last week ‘Clean energy technologies aren’t science fiction anymore’. These technologies include wind, solar, hydro, biomass, and geothermal. For more information on how these technologies are currently used in Alaska, check out www.alaskarenewableenergy.org.
Myth: Climate change is not proven, I don’t need to take energy efficiency measures or care about clean energy.
Reality: FALSE – Whether or not you believe that climate change is real and is really happening because of human actions, energy efficiency and clean energy can still benefit you. The number one benefit is the financial savings you will see from taking energy efficient measures. You don’t have to be an environmentalist to want the REAL financial benefits of energy efficiency and clean energy. Your electricity bill will be smaller and your house will be worth more. You will also benefit from reliable, stably-priced electricity generated from clean energy sources. Generating electricity through coal and other fossil fuels doesn’t just affect climate change (which you may or may not agree with) BUT it creates a slew of other health concerns like bronchitis, asthma and other respiratory illnesses.
For more information about Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency, check out the following links: