4 Environmental Impacts of Renewable Electricity Generation

Renewable Electricity Generation

Renewable Energy is energy that can be harnessed from resources that do not deplete over time with human consumption. This kind of energy is reaped from sunlight, rain, wind, tides, waves, & geothermal heat. The energy derived from these sources is mainly utilised in air & water heating/cooling, transportation, electricity generation & rural energy services.

There are drawbacks to everything there is, and renewable energy holds no exception to this fact. Like any other means of electricity production, renewable energy also has its share of impacting the environment negatively. It is believed to also have adverse effects socio-culturally. The below enumeration will shed light on how detrimental the effects can be.

  • Cultural Impact: Large-scale prodigious hydro-electric projects have substantially had stringent ramifications, especially when deluging scenic glens or towns. Case in point, the reservoir of Dalles dam flooded Celilo Falls & the little hamlet of Celilo, which predominantly was a tribal fishing area and a cultural centre. Like any other dam on the Columbia River, Dalles dam serves many purposes, which also includes flood control, improved navigation, irrigation, and the generation of electricity nearing 1800 MW.
  • Impact on Wildlife: The impact of wind energy on wildlife has been long debated and has occupied a top spot in the list of concerns. Collisions of birds & bats with the blades of wind turbines have splatted them to their death. The number varies on the turbine technology as much as it does with the turbine siting. The number is seemingly whopping, killing roughly around 20,000 to 40,000 birds in 2003, in the US alone. Albeit these numbers might seem insignificant in contrast to the millions of bird deaths that happen due to impingements on buildings, motor vehicles, & high-tension lines, they adversely have an impact on local bird populace.

  • Aesthetic Impact: This factor might not much seem to impact extensively for the general public, but would be an issue for the villages & townships surrounding the energy generation site. Wind farms are often advocated to be erected at places which receive the highest density of wind, like on ridgelines. They also are proposed to be built at sites which have seen no prior industrial growth. The NRC study encourages carrying out a visual assessment process to determine if a particular wind project site would result in jeopardy of valuable aesthetic resources.
  • Greenhouse Gases Emission: Amongst the many sectors which use fuel in the States, electric power production is the largest sector which belches CO2 consistently, which tantamounts to over 2.3 billion metric tons in 2007. Whereas in China, it is estimated to have emitted an approximate of 3.1 billion tons of CO2 in 2007.