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How Renewable Energy Companies Can Tackle Air Quality

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Jane Marsh's picture
Editor Environment.co

Jane Marsh is the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co. She covers topics related to climate policy, sustainability, renewable energy and more.

  • Member since 2020
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  • Aug 19, 2022
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The renewable energy industry is gaining momentum, but some people still lack the urgency needed to transition to clean sources of power quickly. The individuals associated with renewable energy companies could help change that by focusing on how their power sources positively affect air quality.

Mention the Link Between Air Pollution and Premature Death

It’s well-established that ongoing exposure to polluted air can make people die sooner. Research published in 2021 confirmed that 8 million people worldwide passed away due to fossil fuel-related pollution in 2018. The team responsible for the findings said the statistics meant such pollution caused about one in five deaths that year.

Research elsewhere explored how polluted air affects Canadians’ health. It showed how even low levels of air pollution could have a significantly detrimental impact on health. Relatedly, experts once believed the finest particulate matter was relatively harmless to people. However, this study examined data from 1981 to 2016 and showed it’s also a health danger and driver of early deaths.

Renewable energy generally does not worsen air pollution since there are no combustible fuels. The marketing materials distributed by renewable energy firms often highlight how the decision to switch to renewables is a choice that supports the planet’s sustainable future. That’s a genuine and valid benefit, but it’s also useful to draw attention to how renewables help bring about a healthier society.

Help Company Leaders Recognize the Impacts of Air Quality Gains

Air quality has been in the spotlight more than usual lately as the world continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Research confirmed certain air cleaners effectively removed virus particles from indoor environments. Company decision-makers may choose to include air cleaners in their plans to mitigate COVID-19 risks at work.

They can get additional benefits by choosing specific types. For example, Energy Star-certified options offer energy efficiency that’s more than 25% better than how standard models perform. But, while company leaders make such improvements, they should also investigate making a longer-term and more involved change by using renewable energy.

Many industrial organizations use wet scrubbers that can take 95% of particulate matter out of industrial gases. These tools rely on water and liquid solvents to catch the particles and drain them. They’re essential pollution control mechanisms. However, due to research such as the studies already mentioned, corporate leaders can go even further to fight air quality issues by committing to use more renewables.

Doing that can also make companies more favorable in the marketplace. Consider how 213 of Apple’s suppliers have pledged to meet all the company’s production requirements with renewables.

Educate Customers About Renewable Energy Incentives

Switching to renewable energy usually requires financial investments. However, representatives from companies in the industry can help clients see that the overall costs may be less than they expect. That’s due to the federal and state incentives available to people and organizations that invest in renewable energy.

When company representatives give clear details about how people can qualify for these programs, it’s easier for customers to factor such incentives into their budgets. Clients must also have accurate expectations about what renewable energy can do and whether certain types are well-suited for where they live or operate.

For example, a study looked at solar production in India from 2001 to 2018. The results showed atmospheric pollution caused a 29% drop in solar energy potential. The researchers verified that aerosols interfered with the energy generation of the panels. Relatedly, they said aerosol buildup on the solar panels gradually prevented sunlight from adequately reaching them.

Renewable Energy Supports Cleaner Air

Renewable energy is only one of many factors that can help the world reduce its air pollution. But, the research mentioned here and elsewhere shows why people in power must get serious about air quality improvements. As many leaders unveil sustainability initiatives, they must remember that renewable energy investments can help make the air cleaner. When that happens, everyone benefits.

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Aug 19, 2022

It would be great if there was a more widely available measure of air quality in very localized communities over time, a report card of some sort. I'd love to see those numbers as a coal plant is shut down and use that as a tool to foster even more of the same shift towards clean energy. 

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