The issue of energy conservation and the search for new, cheap, renewable energy sources has taken center stage in politics and science in recent years. The different types of renewable and sustainable energy sources are very varied, and each have different advantages and disadvantages. However, before discussing the different advantages and disadvantages of renewable energy and renewable energy policies, it is important to first discuss what type of energy is being discussed under the umbrella of “renewable” or “sustainable” energy. First, solar energy is one type of energy that is commonly considered to be a renewable energy source, since the sun shines on the Earth every day (Haugen and Musser, 2012). Wind energy, captured by windmills in places of high winds can also be a form of alternative, sustainable energy. In terms of alternative energy for fuel, things like electric-gas hybrids and biofuel vehicles have been introduced as alternatives to vehicles that use fossil fuels to run. There are certainly disadvantages to using alternative energy sources-- colloquially, “green” energy sources-- but the benefits of using these alternative energy sources far outweighs the disadvantages.
The obvious advantage to using renewable energy sources is that these energy sources, by definition, do not “run out.” For example, if the sun were to burn out, the sudden lack of solar power would be a miniscule problem compared to the massive problem of the loss of the sun. In addition, wind energy will continue to be a plausible form of energy for as long as the weather patterns on the planet provide for win (Haugen and Musser, 2012). The fact that the infrastructure for these energy sources will continue to be relevant for long periods of time is an advantage insofar as the use of these renewable energy sources is concerned. Providing energy sources that can be used for long periods of time without ever threatening to “run out” or ruin the environment is a benefit and positive effect of the use of renewable energy sources.
Another positive aspect to the use of renewable energy sources like solar and wind power is that these types of renewable energy sources create no or negligible waste in the form of harmful gases (Haugen and Musser, 2012). Unlike other, traditional forms of energy-- like coal, for instance-- wind, water, and solar energy does not require that substances burn and release harmful gases into the atmosphere. There are also no waste products that must be released into the oceans, rivers, or lakes of the world; the lack of byproducts also means that more waste does not need to be deposited into landfills (Haugen and Musser, 2012).
In addition to renewable and...