Exciting times are approaching ahead as renewable energy becomes a mainstream topic across many sectors within the economy and everyday conversations, all thanks to the passing of the new infrastructure bill. As people become familiar with the idea of harnessing energy from wind turbines and solar panels, small businesses also stand to benefit from renewable energy production.
Entrepreneurs across the country are taking advantage of greener solutions by finding and marketing renewable options. Since we use energy for just about everything, the growing trend toward greener, more sustainable practices is creating more opportunities for entrepreneurial-minded individuals.
This does not seem like a fad that is going away, and it appears renewables are here to stay. As the global population faces the consequences of a growing society, the reality of finite resources like water is starting to sink in. To prosper in a sustainable future, we can no longer depend on fossil fuels to meet our energy needs.
These concerns, along with the new data on the negative impacts of burning fossil fuels, have created an environmentally and socially conscious mindset amongst different sets of economic players, encompassing consumers, investors, corporations and governments. Companies and investors looking for profits have taken advantage of consumer interest in cleaner energy alternatives and government-incentivized green business initiatives.
With all these factors driving the shift toward renewable energy, here are five ways small businesses can envision more clear-cut benefits to a greener future.
- More jobs and a growing economy. Compared to fossil fuel jobs, which are typically focused on machinery and very expensive, the renewable energy industry is more labor intensive. This means that renewable solutions like solar panels need humans to install them and wind farms need technicians for maintenance. In addition, on average, more jobs are created for each unit of electricity generated from renewable sources than from fossil fuels. Another major benefit to the job creation within the renewable energy industry, growth in clean energy can create positive economic waves. For example, industries in the renewable energy supply chain will strengthen, and local businesses will benefit from increased household and business incomes as well as creating a steady flow of income for local governments to increase community services.
- Stable energy prices. Many people are worried about rising fuel and energy costs, but renewable energy is providing affordable electricity across the country already, and it can help stabilize energy prices in the future. Renewable facilities are not cheap; however, they do ultimately operate at a low cost, essentially making their fuelfree. As a result, energy prices can be stabilized over time. This can help reduce our dependence on natural gas and help protect consumer when fossil fuel prices spike.
- Improved health of our communities. The air and water pollution emitted by coal and natural gas facilities is linked with breathing problems, neurological damage, heart attacks, cancer, premature death and many other serious problems. Wind, solar and hydroelectric systems can produce electricity with no associated air pollution emissions. Geothermal and biomass systems emit some air pollutants, but total air emissions are generally much lower than those of coal- and natural gas-fired power plants. A healthier community means a longer life with fewer visits to the doctor. When a community is healthy, its members can enjoy travel and leisure and produce work they are passionate about.
- Better reliability and resilience. Wind and solar are less prone to large-scale failure because they are distributed and modular. Even if some of the equipment in the system is damaged, the rest can typically continue to operate. Water scarcity is another risk for non-renewable power plants since they depend on having sufficient water for cooling, which means that severe droughts and heat waves can put electricity generation at risk. Wind and solar photovoltaic systems do not require water to generate electricity and can operate reliably. The need for resilient, clean technologies will increase as weather conditions change.
- Cost savings. One of the most obvious ways that renewable energy can save businesses money is by reducing their energy bills. Companies can install solar panels, wind turbines and other forms of renewable energy on their properties and use them to power their operations. Depending on how much capacity they install and their energy usage, these resources can cover a significant portion or even all their energy needs.
The science is clear: Renewable energy is the way to go. Small businesses must keep a close eye on new ways they can operate, sustain and grow their business with green technology that is already here to stay.
Take a moment to explore the Going Green & Going Smart Program to learn how you can transform your small business by joining the #GreenBizAZ movement. This initiative aims to educate small-business owners in sustainable business practices for a cleaner, greener future in Arizona.
EDGAR RAFAEL OLIVO is a bilingual business educator, economic advisor, and contributor for several media outlets. He’s a nonprofit executive who is passionate about education. He is certified in finance and data analytics and holds a business degree from Arizona State University.
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