Is Renewable Energy Feasible Essay

Is renewable energy feasible essay

Renewable energy sources like solar, wind, geothermal, and hydropower have become cost-competitive with fossil fuels in recent years, making them a feasible solution to combat climate change and achieve energy independence. This essay will argue that a transition to renewable energy is both achievable from a technical and economic perspective, and crucially needed to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. Although there are still challenges around grid reliability and job impacts, with the right government policies, renewable energy can scale up to meet 100% of global energy demand in the future. The decade ahead will be pivotal for enacting the policies and investments needed to accelerate the renewable energy transition.

Rising Energy Demand

Global energy demand is projected to increase substantially over the coming decades according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The EIA projects that global energy consumption will rise by nearly 50% between 2020 and 2050 in their Reference case, driven largely by economic growth and population increases in non-OECD countries [1]. Much of this growth will come from developing nations in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

More specifically, the EIA forecasts that global electricity demand could grow between 34% to 76% by 2050 across different scenarios [2]. This will require a massive expansion of electricity generation capacity globally, with electric power capacity needing to increase anywhere from 50% to 100% over this timeframe.

Meeting this surging electricity demand while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be a major challenge. It will require scaling up clean energy sources like renewables dramatically. The feasibility and economics of renewable energy scaling will be key factors in determining how successfully the world can meet rising energy needs sustainably.

Fossil Fuels Are Limited

Fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas are finite resources. According to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, at current production levels the world’s proved oil reserves are estimated to last around 50 years, natural gas for 53 years, and coal for 132 years [1]. However, as global energy demand rises, particularly from developing countries, these reserves will deplete faster than current projections suggest. Additionally, the remaining reserves are increasingly difficult and expensive to extract as companies tap the hardest to reach sources, like deep sea drilling, oil sands, and shale gas.

Extracting these unconventional fossil fuel sources often requires environmentally harmful techniques like hydraulic fracturing. As conventional reserves dwindle, energy companies will likely resort to even more environmentally destructive practices to try to meet demand. While new discoveries and improved extraction techniques may prolong the lifetime of fossil fuel reserves, they remain finite and nonrenewable on a human timescale.

Environmental Impacts of Fossil Fuels

The continued reliance on fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas has severe environmental consequences. When burned, fossil fuels release large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere (1). Greenhouse gases like CO2 trap heat and are the primary cause of global climate change (2). Since the Industrial Revolution began in the late 18th century, atmospheric CO2 levels have increased over 40% (3). This dramatic rise in greenhouse gases is directly linked to human activities like burning fossil fuels.

In addition to climate change, fossil fuel emissions cause air pollution that harms human health. Fossil fuel combustion releases particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides, mercury, and other hazardous substances into the air (4). Exposure to these pollutants increases risks for stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, asthma and other respiratory diseases (5). The WHO estimates 4.2 million premature deaths annually link to outdoor air pollution, predominantly from fossil fuel sources.

Fossil fuel dependence also enables pipeline leaks, oil spills, fracking, and mining that can pollute water and soil. Burning coal releases toxins like mercury that contaminate lakes, rivers, and oceans when deposited from the atmosphere (6). Extracting and transporting fossil fuels leads to oil spills that harm marine ecosystems. Fracking to access shale oil and gas threatens groundwater contamination. Reducing reliance on fossil fuels would mitigate these environmental hazards.


(4) [Academic source on air pollution and health impacts]
(5) [Public health data on respiratory diseases]
(6) [Data on mercury contamination]

Cost Competitiveness of Renewables

The costs of renewable energy technologies like solar and wind have declined dramatically in recent years, making them increasingly cost-competitive with fossil fuels. According to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the costs of electricity from onshore wind and solar PV fell by 15% and 13% respectively just from 2019 to 2020 [1]. IRENA predicts that if current market and policy trends continue, the costs of wind and solar power could fall an additional 26-59% by 2025 [2]. The main drivers for these cost reductions have been technology improvements, economies of scale, and fierce competition within the renewable energy industry.

The levelized cost of energy (LCOE) from renewable sources has reached historic lows. In many parts of the world, electricity from new solar or wind plants costs less than power from new coal, gas, or nuclear plants. A 2021 report found the global weighted-average LCOE of utility-scale solar PV and onshore wind declined by 85% and 56% respectively between 2010 and 2020 [1]. With costs projected to keep falling in the years ahead, renewables are becoming the obvious economic choice for new power generation capacity in a growing number of markets.

Scalability of Renewable Energy

Renewable energy has enormous potential to meet the rising global demand for electricity. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the total installed capacity for renewables reached over 3,000 GW in 2021, increasing by over 9% from the previous year ( IRENA projects that with supportive policies, renewables have the potential to provide over 90% of electricity demand globally by 2050.

Some countries are demonstrating the scalability of renewables to meet national electricity demand. For example, Iceland generates 100% of its electricity from renewable sources, primarily hydropower and geothermal ( Costa Rica has run its electric grid on over 98% renewables since 2016. Portugal and Denmark now regularly have periods where renewables provide over 100% of electric demand.

Key renewable technologies like solar, wind and battery storage are also seeing exponential growth and cost declines, further enabling their scalability. The International Energy Agency (IEA) projects renewable capacity growth will shatter records again in 2023, increasing by over 107 GW globally ( With supportive policies and sustained technological advances, renewables have the potential to fully meet rising electricity demand worldwide.

Grid Reliability

One common concern regarding renewable energy is whether it can provide consistent and reliable power to the grid. Renewable sources like wind and solar are intermittent – they only generate electricity when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. This variability has raised doubts about whether renewables can sustain a stable power supply.

However, recent advances in grid technology and energy storage are enabling renewables to provide very reliable grid power. With smart grids, two-way communication between the utility and connected devices allows better monitoring and control of power flows. This greater visibility and flexibility helps grid operators to integrate more renewables while maintaining reliability.

Energy storage like batteries and pumped hydro can store excess renewable energy when supply exceeds demand. This stored power can then be discharged to the grid when renewable output falls. According to a report, pairing large amounts of renewables with storage can cost-effectively provide constant and reliable energy.

In summary, smart grids and energy storage are key solutions that can harness the full potential of renewables while ensuring grid stability and meeting energy needs.

Job Creation

The renewable energy sector has created millions of new jobs globally as adoption has increased. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), employment in renewable energy nearly doubled from 7.3 million jobs in 2012 to 13.6 million jobs in 2022.

The United States has also seen significant job growth in clean energy sectors. The U.S. Department of Energy reported clean energy jobs, including renewable energy, grew 3.9% in 2021, adding over 300,000 jobs and exceeding over 3 million jobs nationally. Renewable energy jobs now make up over 40% of all energy jobs in the country.

Every state saw increases in renewable energy jobs in 2021. The states with the most significant total job increases were California (39,584 jobs added), Texas (28,240 jobs added), and Florida (15,180 jobs added). Solar power jobs saw the most growth nationally, adding over 48,000 jobs.

The renewable energy transition is creating economic opportunities and reducing unemployment in communities across the country. Policymakers at federal and state levels have increasingly recognized these benefits and enacted supportive policies to continue the growth of renewable energy and associated jobs.


Government Policy

Government policies play a critical role in the adoption of renewable energy by creating incentives and establishing targets. According to the EPA, many U.S. states have enacted renewable portfolio standards which require utilities to source a percentage of their electricity from renewable sources (EPA). These portfolio standards create guaranteed demand and help drive investment in renewable energy projects. The federal government also provides tax credits, loans, and grants to support renewable energy deployment, such as the investment tax credit (ITC) and production tax credit (PTC) for solar and wind projects (Department of Energy). According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), 131 countries had renewable energy targets and policies in place as of 2020. Government policies like feed-in tariffs and auction schemes have catalyzed tremendous renewable energy growth worldwide. Supportive policies are essential to incentivize investment in renewables and accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels.


The world is faced with a critical imperative to transition away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy sources. As this essay has demonstrated, while the challenges are substantial, the transition to 100% renewable energy is entirely feasible with the proper technological developments, economic investments and government policies enacted. Renewable energy sources like solar, wind, hydro and geothermal are rapidly becoming cost-competitive with fossil fuels, aided by technological advances that are making renewables highly scalable and reliable. With coordinated efforts to upgrade power grids, invest in renewable infrastructure, train a renewable energy workforce and enact supportive regulations, a full transition to clean energy can be achieved within a few decades. While the fossil fuel industry will resist this change, it is critical for combating climate change and building a sustainable future that humanity rapidly phase out coal, oil and natural gas and replace them entirely with renewable energy. The transition will require short-term sacrifices but lead to long-term prosperity. When approached systematically and equitably, the renewable energy transition presents exciting new economic opportunities in innovation, manufacturing and jobs. The planet’s future depends on society rising to meet this challenge.

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