When it comes to preserving the health and well-being of the environment, there is no greater imperative than ending our dependence on fossil fuels. The environmental evils caused by fossil fuels are well-documented – global warming, air pollution, water pollution, land degradation, and ocean acidification. And the litany of human health problems attributable to the use of fossil fuels is just as alarming – asthma, cancer, heart disease, neurological defects, immune system disease, pulmonary disease, and congenital disabilities. While the movement to wean ourselves off fossil fuels is steady, we need to move faster as parts of our environment – especially the ocean – are at the point of no return.

Renewable energy, often referred to as clean energy, is energy produced from geothermal heat, sunlight, water, and wind. Unlike fossil fuels that can take thousands—or even millions—of years to naturally replenish, renewable energy sources can be replenished during an average human lifetime. Renewable energy can be used for generating electricity to heat homes and power appliances, heat and cool water, and power automobiles, ships, trucks, and even space exploration vehicles. Increasing the use of renewable sources of energy is critical for efforts to protect the health of the environment by limiting greenhouse gas emissions and reducing air pollution.

Renewable energy is the fastest-growing global energy source. In the United States, the use of renewable energy increased 90 percent from 2000 to 2020. Of course, renewable energy is still a fraction of overall energy use as fossil fuels like petroleum, natural gas, and coal make up almost 80% of energy consumption, with nuclear energy accounting for an additional 10%. However, just because it is currently a small slice of the energy consumption pie does not mean that the renewable energy sector does not have a significant economic impact. The clean energy industry generates hundreds of billions in economic activity and, importantly for anyone looking to make a career in the field, is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years. There is tremendous economic opportunity for the countries that manufacture and export clean energy technologies and for the companies and individuals who invent, design, construct, install, and operate those technologies.

To learn more about renewable energy and to access Ocean Connect’s wide range of educational and career resources, please visit our Renewable Energy Snapshot.