I love the renewable energy industry. My wife does not. Whenever I prattle on to her about low environmental impacts and sustainability, her eyes glaze over. So I knew she must have had an exceptionally frustrating day at work when she came home the other night and asked, “Terry, how do you always stay positive and enthusiastic about your job?”
I had her full attention. This was my chance to explain. Why do I care so much about renewable energy?
Why should anyone care about it?
Renewable Energy Isn’t Just for Tree-Huggers
Renewable energy is often dismissed by those who aren’t passionate about protecting the environment, but there are many people who see it as being an invaluable industry.
- My wife wants our kids to grow up in a healthier, environmentally flourishing world.
- My Ukrainian grandfather thinks diversity in the energy industry is the answer to safety and maintenance concerns. To make sure we aren’t counting on partial energy solutions, we need to branch out with other options.
- My patriotic neighbor wants energy security. We need to control supply and energy prices so as to make us better able to satisfy our own energy needs.
- As a builder, as well as a father who will soon be paying university tuition, I am motivated by my belief that the renewable energy economy will create countless jobs in manufacturing, financing, and construction.
Still Not Convinced?
No matter how you look at it, renewable energy can shape our families, our economy, and our country.
We all want to see our kids and grandkids thrive in a world that we helped heal. This dream may have caused the birth of the renewable energy revolution, but it isn’t the only reason the global transition to this kind of energy is under way.
Even the most optimistic of us can sometimes become desensitized to the countless facts and predictions about how deeply the environment is suffering. Let’s face it, there’s one thing it seems no one stops yearning for: money.
You may be surprised to discover how rich a future with renewable energy could be, not just figuratively, but literally. Yes, the transition would involve upfront costs, like any long-term investment, but that’s not a good enough reason to stick with what we’ve got now. Our nuclear plants are getting older and will require more and more costly maintenance. It is estimated that by 2020, approximately 15% of Canada's electrical generation capacity will be more than 40 years old, and 42,000 MW of new electrical generation capacity will be required as older plants are decommissioned and demand rises. And we can’t avoid horrendous safety issues and expenses either: I just caught a news announcement reporting that Washington has declared six underground nuclear waste tanks are leaking. Yikes! This is just the beginning.
Renewable Energy Will Supply a Powerful Future
The good news is that we don’t have to rely on anyone else to fix these problems or shape our future. Right here in beautiful North America, we’re gifted with abundant renewable resources, such as sunlight, wind, biomass, and geothermal energy, that can be used to produce power, not to mention energy from waste, moving water, and the ocean.
There’s money to be made. In 2011, $280 billion was invested in renewables globally and over a trillion dollars have been invested in green energy since 2004. Last year, investments in electricity from renewable sources topped those in coal, oil, or natural gas for the first time. If that’s not tempting enough, did I mention that Canadian, as well as some US state governments are providing generous support through long-term feed-in tariffs?
The US is the world’s largest electricity consumer. Canada is the sixth-largest consumer, and has the third-largest renewable energy capacity. So it’s only logical that developers and investors are looking to get involved in renewable energy projects in North America. You know what that means?
A lot more jobs! A recent study in Canada found that an investment of $1.3 billion in the renewable energy sector would create 18,000 new jobs, whereas that same investment in oil and gas would result in only 3,000 jobs. A similar US study found that as many as 240,000 new jobs could be created in the sector by 2020, versus no more than 75,000 new jobs if the country sticks to fossil fuels. Already, an estimated five million people are employed in renewables globally. This job growth occurred throughout the recession, and continues today, even as other industries struggle in the wake of the global economic crisis.
PCL has not only the technological expertise but the passion to embrace and support the renewable energy revolution. Do you?