- Social and economic development
Production of renewable energy, particularly biomass, can provide economic development and employment opportunities, especially in rural areas, that otherwise have limited opportunities for economic growth. Renewable energy can thus help reduce poverty in rural areas and reduce pressures for urban migration.
- Land restoration
Growing biomass for energy on degraded lands can provide the incentives and financing needed to restore lands rendered nearly useless by previous agricultural or forestry practices. Although lands farmed for energy would not be restored to their original condition, the recovery of these lands for biomass plantations would support rural development. prevent erosion, and provide a better habitat for wildlife than at present.
- Reduced air pollution
Renewable-energy technologies, such as methanol or hydrogen for fuel-cell vehicles, produce virtually none of the emissions associated with urban air pollution and acid deposition, without the need for costly additional controls.
- Abatement of global warming
Renewable energy use does not produce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse emissions that contribute to global warming. Even the use of biomass fuels will not con tribute to global warming: the carbon dioxide released when biomass is burned equals the amount absorbed from the atmosphere by plants as they arc grown for biomass fuel.
- Fuel supply diversity
There would be substantial interregional energy trade in a renewables-intensive energy future, involving a diversity of energy carriers and suppliers. Energy importers would be able to choose from among more producers and fuel types than they do today and thus would he less vulnerable to monopoly price manipulation or unexpected disruptions of supplies. Such competition would make wide swings in energy prices less likely, leading eventually to stabilization of the world oil price. The growth in world energy trade would also provide new opportunities for energy suppliers. Especially promising are the prospects for trade in alcohol fuels such as methanol derived from biomass, natural gas (not a renewable fuel but an important complement to renewables), and, later, hydrogen.
- Reducing the risks of nuclear weapons proliferation
Competitive renewable resources could reduce incentives to build a large world infrastructure in support of nuclear energy, thus avoiding major increases in the production, transportation, and storage of plutonium and other nuclear materials that could be diverted to nuclear weapons production.
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