How Sustainable Is Renewable Energy All Things Considered?

Things may not as bright as they seem.
Loukia Papadopoulos

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In February of 2020, Stanford University in California combined 47 peer-reviewed research papers from  91 authors from 13 independent groups that all argued that the world could be powered by renewable energy by 2050. This is all nice and dandy but how sustainable is renewable energy really when all things are considered?

For instance, let's take solar, one of the most popular forms of renewable energy. Manufacturing solar panels can have potentially negative consequences for our environment as it requires caustic chemicals such as sodium hydroxide and hydrofluoric acid.

It also uses a lot of water as well as electricity and creates much waste. Some estimates foresee that by 2050, end-of-life photovoltaics could make up a whopping 10% of global e-waste. On the bright side, there are many developments constantly happening that could see more sustainable photovoltaics in the future and faster than you may think.

But for now, building photovoltaic remains an energy-intensive and polluting procedure. There are also similar issues for wind and hydropower. What are these issues? How are other forms of renewable energy unsustainable? What will it take to create a world with purely sustainable energy? We answer all these questions and more in our video.

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