Image description: A black cow stands in a big green field with rolling hills. In the background, many white wind turbines are visible.
By Linda Pickering
“They’re noisy. They kill birds.” In December 2019, this was President Trump’s remark against wind turbines in the debate over the Green New Deal.
Yet, climate change is a very important issue, especially for younger generations, and pertinent to this is the use of renewable energy sources. Boomers may have you believe that renewable energy is bad for the economy – and apparently, birds. However, there are at least three general economic benefits I can cite to the use of renewable energy, alongside benefits specific to Australia.
The first is that the use of renewable energy creates jobs. It is important to note that this has long term benefits; as we increase the amount of renewable energy being used, these new jobs will flourish, whilst jobs in industries such as coal will become redundant. Whilst some are supporting new coal mines such as Adani, it would be wiser to put money into educating people in jobs related to renewables. Increasing the Newstart Allowance to aid people in this re-education would be logical.
Landowners can also benefit from renewable energy – something boomers should love. In cities, homeowners can attach solar panels to their roofs to reduce their energy bill. In the country, farm-owners can allow wind turbines to be built on their land, creating an additional source of revenue atop farming. The addition of these technologies to a property can also increase its value.
Another benefit of using renewables is that with solar panels and a solar battery, it’s possible for individuals to become more energy independent. This is particularly applicable in Australia, where it’s conceivable that you could go completely off the grid with the use of this technology, due to Australia’s climate.
The wider use of nuclear energy could also boost the Australian economy. Australia has large uranium deposits which could be exported to countries using nuclear power plants. It could also be used in Australia if the government decides to invest in some of the technology here, creating additional jobs, and boosting our GDP*.
Finally, renewables will result in reduced strain on the economy and on the environment, lessening the impact of climate change. As we have seen over the summer, devastating natural disasters can result from climate change, exerting serious effects on the economy.
So, before entertaining Trump’s bid to save the birds (although Darwin’s theory of evolution would say that any bird dumb enough to fly into a massive wind turbine may not have been passing on the best genes), it may be worth considering the numerous economic and environmental benefits of investing in renewable energy. What are we waiting for?
*According to Investopedia, GDP (Gross Domestic Product) represents the total dollar value of all goods and services produced over a specific time period. It is often referred to as the size of the economy.
Linda is a Politics and Economics major, confused by the current state of both.
Image courtesy of Jack Sploosh via Unsplash