All renewable energy sources are environmentally friendly energy sources but as I always say a perfect energy source does not exist, and this rule also applies to renewable energy sources. From the environmental point of view renewable energy sources are far more acceptable than fossil fuels, mostly because they do not emit greenhouse gases like burning of fossil fuels does, but this does not make them a perfect solution to protect our environment, they are more like the best available energy option we currently have.
Renewable energy sources can also have negative environmental impact in certain area, the major difference in this point between fossil fuels and renewable energy sources is the fact that fossil fuel burning always has negative environmental impact, while on the other hand using renewable energy sources “can” have negative environmental impact.
Wind energy has been over the last couple of years the most popular renewable energy source but despite its popularity this renewable energy source has also been the subject of some rather interesting environmental debates, for instance are large wind turbines really killing thousands of birds with their fast rotating huge blades and do large wind turbines really create significant noise pollution.
Solar energy is renewable energy source that has probably received the least critics from environmentalists but even the abundant solar energy isn’t the perfect environmental solution. The environmental drawbacks of solar energy include the fact that large solar power plants use large quantities of water for cooling purposes which could lead to water shortages, and they also need huge area which could shrink habitats of animals in nearby area.
Geothermal energy is in most cases extremely environmentally friendly energy source but if for instance drilling isn’t done with proper care, it can lead to release of many harmful gases which could cause significant environmental damage.
Tidal and wave power projects can also have negative impact on environment by for instance disturbing or disrupting marine ecosystems by noise and/or visual pollution.
As you can clearly see from above even the renewable energy sources aren’t perfect from the environmental point of view, but are currently the best energy option at our disposal, especially if we accept the fact that ongoing climate change phenomenon is the greatest environmental problem of all time.
The only real chance in fight against climate change is the strong development of renewable energy sector, because this would mean less need for fossil fuels, and less fossil fuel burning would mean less greenhouse gas emissions, most notably CO2 emissions.
The share of renewable energy in global energy supply is increasing year after year but even despite this positive trend world will still continue to heavily depend on fossil fuels in years to come, meaning that the condition of our environment will likely further deteriorate and climate change impact will continue to strengthen.
Renewable energy needs time to become competitive in terms of costs and efficiency with fossil fuels, and this will certainly take some time. I’m just hoping that by the time this happens our environment, most notably our climate, won’t past the point of no return.