The increased investment in renewable energy in recent years has been extraordinary, and renewables are now cheaper and more efficient than ever before.
Wind is powering a record-breaking number of homes, massive hydroelectric plants are cropping up around the world, and solar is saving both dollars and lives. Several nations have announced plans to completely transition to renewable sources of energy within the next couple of decades, while others think they’ll be able to get there in the next few years.
However, most places in the world, the U.S. included, are still reliant on fossil fuels to some extent, and these traditional sources of energy are destroying our planet and our health. However, before renewables can truly supplant fossil fuels, we’ll need to overcome several hurdles.
The transition to renewables isn’t just about deploying greener forms of energy — fossil fuels must also be phased out. While some companies are starting to pivot toward the wave of the future, many would prefer to maintain the status quo.
A recent study by the Stockholm Environment Institute asserted that almost half of the oil production in the U.S. is reliant on subsidies. While subsidies are offered for renewables, too, Oil Change International’s data suggests that fossil fuels receive seven times as much money from the federal government when it comes to permanent tax breaks. This makes it difficult for companies dealing in renewables to make long-term plans for the future, while organizations selling fossil fuels can operate without these restrictions. Subsidies aren’t the only economic factor bearing down on renewables. The International Trade Commission recently recommended the U.S. impose tariffs on certain solar products.
Only once all the economic factors are addressed will fossil fuels be killed off for good. Lower prices have allowed renewables to make up ground over the last few years, but tax breaks and tariffs continue to play a vital role in keeping the coal and oil industries alive.