Green energy has produced a thriving industry which now focuses on maintaining these natural resources. The industry’s aim is to preserve the environment, maintain sustainability and rid itself from controversies and risks.
So, before we discuss green energy impact on green economy and sustainable resource management, let’s talk about each term individually.
In 1989, a report on Blueprint for a Green Economy used the word ‘green economy’ for the first time. Ever since then, the word began to surface in findings related to green energy. The term has no official definition, however, Green Economy Coalition, defines it as:
“A resilient economy that provides a better quality of life for all within the ecological limits of the planet.” So, it translates to a system that not only works to develop but sustain the economy, environment and the quality of life.
Sustainable Resource Management
Once again, there is no concrete definition present for this term. University of Edinburgh defines it as:
“Sustainable resource management is a planning and decision-making process that seeks to coordinate and balance the social, economic and environmental demands on resource use to achieve long term sustainable benefits and reduce conflicts among resource users.”
So, even if there is an infinite supply of solar, wind, water, geothermal and biomass energy, it is important to control and monitor these resources. This would avoid potential conflicts between countries in the future, and ensure that the supply never runs out.
Here’s How It Works
Shifting towards green energy would mean altering or discarding the technology used for non-renewable resources. Its impact raises certain questions such as what would happen to the global market and the economy in different parts of the world or what could be the potential risks and aftereffects. After all, some of the resources are geographically limited which would be unfavorable to the economy. Starting with employment: between the years 2009 to 2011, hydroelectric energy opened jobs for around 250,000 people, solar energy for around 100,000 people, wind energy for around 75,000 people and geothermal energy for around 5,200 people.
It is expected that by 2050, there will be 202,000 more jobs in the green sector. And altogether, 24 million jobs will be available in 2030 as compared to 9.3 million at present. According to the report Renewable Energy Benefits: Measuring the Economics published by International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), if the renewable energy shares are doubled in the global mix, then it would increase the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2030 by 700 billion dollars (0.6%). Global welfare will also increase by 3.7% which would be positive for the economy. Employment would also increase by 24.4 million in the year 2030. Most of these jobs would be related to the manufacturing and installation of new equipment. Trade in green energy equipment will also increase while it will decrease in the non-renewable sector.
Moving on, the main goal behind sustainable management is to restock resources as soon as they are used. So, the rate of consumption and replenishment must be kept at an equilibrium. This is implemented to ensure that future generations are also able to use them. If non-renewable resources are considered, maintaining equilibrium is difficult because resources like fossil fuel take millions of years to be formed again. However, it’s interesting to note that the impact of green energy on sustainable resource management has not been given much importance. Using green energy encourages the establishment of power plants and windmills which means more land is required for new infrastructures. Here’s how green energy will impact sustainable resource management:
- Sustainable forest management – It is vital to manage and protect the forests for future generations as well as to avoid global conflict. With green energy beginning to evolve, it would mean that even the waste from trees and plants must not be used without permission. It is important that limitations be implemented by 2020 to protect “forest biodiversity”.
- Sustainable water management – Almost 1,13,500 cubic kms of water is received by precipitation out of which only 9,000 cubic kms is left for use. This water needs to be distributed to the agriculture sector and the ecosystem equally. In future, hydropower would require more water which would mean using up ground water or freshwater. Dams built to collect water would put people at risk who rely on streams near their houses. These are risks that would upset the economic stability.
- Sustainable construction for solar energy – Companies have already started focusing on constructing solar panels that reduce the use of non-renewable sources. Since, more and more solar panels will be built in the future, it is important that their construction causes little to no pollution. The power plants should be environment friendly and sustainable which means that they should use recycled material to reduce emissions.
Currently, the focus lies on increasing the growth and using the resources. Little attention is being paid to unplanned effects of using these resources on the social order and ecosystems. Overusing natural resources can disturb the natural cycle. If the renewal rate of the resource is lower than the depletion rate, equilibrium is lost. Only discussing the problem will do no good, limitations and results need to be acquired before 2020. No tree should be cut down, no power plant should be built or no windmill should be constructed without considering the effect on forests, wildlife and aquatic animals.
Critics have pointed out that solar and wind energy depends on factors that cannot be controlled by mankind. A cloudy day or a windless day may be able to store wind energy. But there are no statistics to prove this fact. Furthermore, criticism regarding the construction of unavailable infrastructure means the cost of green energy will be high in the beginning. Will customers really be willing to pay more for clean electricity when they can enjoy the perks of cheap electricity?