white windmill

Even to the uninitiated, it’s obvious that fossil fuels are much different from renewable energy sources. Fossil fuels are created when the fossilized remains of plants and animals are converted into usable material after being subjected to millions of years of intense pressure inside the Earth. In contrast, renewable energy is extracted from the sun, wind, water, and the earth — sources of energy that regenerate every single day. 

We want to investigate what makes them different in terms of how and why they are used. Specifically, we want to explore the question: Why do people want to increase renewables and decrease fossil fuels? Let’s talk about the five key differences and why we believe one definitely edges out the others!

Coal excavation site

1. We Will Eventually Run Out of Fossil Fuels 

We learned this lesson early on in science class, and it’s still true today. By their very nature, coal, oil, and natural gas are non-renewable energy sources, even if we currently are in no danger of technically using them up presently. Just because we have these energy sources available doesn’t mean we need to use them until they’re gone.

Oil will become scarce in 50 years

Experts estimate our oil reserves will run dry. Yes, there are places in the world with oil, but when you consider current technology, the cost of extracting the fuel, and how much we’re extracting now, then future projects reveal a bleak future for oil. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed this. The price of oil went negative in April 2020, and the demand for oil has shrunk dramatically as people simply don’t drive their cars as much. However, experts also predict that consumption will likely return to pre-pandemic levels. 

Natural gas will run out in 60 years

The same basic concept applies here, even as fracking changed the game earlier this century. That technology helped companies access new and more significant stores of natural gas than ever before. Even so, the current Reserves-to-Production ratio states that we will run out of what we have within the next 60 years, and we’re running out of ways to get more at current economies of scale. 

Coal will last longer at 150 years

We have more coal than natural gas and oil reserves combined, and experts approximate that reserves will last for about 150 more years. However, we must consider that, when natural gas and oil become obsolete, coal reserves will deplete at a much faster rate.

A hydropower facility

2. Renewable Energy is Free and Inexhaustible

In contrast to fossil fuels, any energy source considered renewable cannot be used up or depleted entirely because it must be renewed within the average human lifespan and naturally. We’ll never run out of sunshine, wind, or water. They will always be available for use via wind turbines, solar power panels and hydroelectric dams, just to name a few. 

3. Fossil Fuels Create Greenhouse Gases

Not all greenhouse gases are bad, but the burning of fossil fuels creates an imbalance of greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere. It causes the atmosphere to become hotter because the excess gases have nowhere to go. This is what we call global warming, and the world is actively trying to curb its growth. 

There are three types of greenhouse gases most commonly attributed to excess greenhouse gas emissions: 

  • Carbon Dioxide. CO2 is released naturally in nature, but it’s also one of the main greenhouse gases released by burning fossil fuels. 
  • Methane. This gas also occurs naturally, but it traps much more heat than carbon dioxide, making it a much more potent greenhouse gas.
  • Nitrous Oxide. As a byproduct of industry and agriculture, it’s not a naturally occurring gas. It is created through solid waste, wastewater, and energy generation from fossil fuels. 

4. Fossil Fuels Will Become More Expensive Over Time

This is economics 101: as the demand for fossil fuels increases, supply will decrease, especially as it gets too costly to extract more fossil fuels for a profit. Thus, the price will eventually increase to where we won’t want to purchase them anymore and renewables will become the far cheaper option. While this is great for renewables in theory, it also means that we exhausted our fossil fuel reserves far past the point recommended by climate scientists. 

Stable financial situation. Happy married couple looking at personal finances at home, free space

5. Renewable Energy Will Become Cheaper Over Time

Renewable energy hasn’t always had the reputation for being cheap. However, it’s rapidly becoming the preferred energy source among producers. Not only is it cheaper to create electricity, but also it will never run out. As the current infrastructure expands, through the formation of more solar farms, wind farms, and renewable energy battery storage, the price to create renewable energy will undoubtedly become much cheaper. 

We’re already seeing this today from retail electricity providers across the country. Wind and solar energy are often as affordable as or cheaper than their fossil fuel counterparts. 

Renewable Energy is the Answer to the Energy Equation

Right now, the reality is we need fossil fuels. We use natural gas in our stoves and to heat our homes, and our cars rely on gasoline to keep the engine humming. However, the world’s changing, and renewable energy is the key to the problems we currently face in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and rising global temperatures. The world must switch from brown power to green power if we want to create a better future for everyone. The grass is truly greener on the other side!

To reap the benefits of green power yourself, check out our solar energy plans today. We can’t accomplish this energy transition without you. We need your help!