Congratulations to the 2019 Greenshine New Energy $1,000 College Scholarship Contest winner:
Lawson Smith, a student of the University of Georgia!
Entrants were asked to write an essay expressing how they think green energy technology will change in the next 30 years and what the impact on our lives will be.
We received many, many submissions from students in the U.S. and after much deliberation, we felt that Lawson’s essay was exemplary. There were so many other fantastic essays, but our team had to choose just one. We’ve published it here with his permission.
Thank you to all that submitted essays. Try again next year!
Lawson’s essay for the Greenshine Solar Street Light Contest:
The climate strikes during September of this year were extremely moving for me as an advocate of renewable energy. As I stood hand in hand with hundreds of my peers, I was extremely proud to be a part of a movement that provides hope for the future. I find myself in the unique position as a current college student to be part of a generation that has a chance to make a meaningful impact on the way energy is produced. As I continue to learn every day about the negative consequences of our reliance on fossil fuels, it is my hope and expectation that within the next 30 years renewable energy sources will be integrated into every phase of energy production.
We are all familiar with the effects of carbon emissions on climate change. An estimated 5,268 million metric tons of CO2 emissions can be directly linked to the energy industry, according to the U.S. Energy Information Association, which can have disastrous climate implications moving forward. However, many people fail to see the benefits that will directly impact the lives of everyday citizens. As a business major, I often encounter obstacles in discussing climate change with my peers, because the majority of the discourse today is entrenched in the massive idea of climate change, which can be a bit overwhelming. I find that green energy can be appealing even to the most skeptical climate change deniers when I appeal to the smaller-scaler, everyday problems people face such unemployment, utility expenses, and health. In discussing energy reform on these terms, I am confident that within the next decade there will be overwhelming support for clean energy productions.
The renewable energy sector is much more labor-intensive than the highly automated fossil fuel industry. As such, with the shift toward renewable energy that will take place within the next 30 years, more people will be able to find full-time, good-paying jobs. According to the National Solar Jobs Census, solar energy alone was responsible for 260,000 jobs in 2016, over 100,000 more than the coal industry, which has a much larger market share in the energy field. As renewable energy continues to gain market share over the coming decades, these employment discrepancies will continue to grow, and along with it will emerge a new middle class. People will have more money to spend and the economy will boom.
One major concern surrounding the switch to renewable energy is the misconception that it will be a lot more expensive than traditional forms of energy production. While it is true that renewable energy is costly on the front-end, just as with any major overhaul, the costs are offset by the savings earned down the road. The costs to produce green energy have dropped anywhere from 11 percent to 26 percent depending on the method, which now puts it in the same price range as oil and gas, costing around $0.05/kWh to $0.015/kWh according to Forbes. This decline has been a constant trend, and within the next few years, renewable energy will undoubtedly be cheaper to produce, which in combination with its increased price stability, as opposed to volatile fossil fuels, will easily offset the cost of implementation. Consumers will see these cost reductions on their energy bills, which will free up even more money for them to put back into the growing economy.
Yet another major benefit that will arise from the renewable energy revolution in the next 30 years will be an increase in public health. With life expectancy rates dropping for the first time in United States history, it is important to attack this problem from all angles, and energy production is a surprisingly significant factor. One Harvard study found that a combination of heart disease, neurological disorders, and cancer caused by coal consumption cumulates to cost an estimated $74.6 billion annually. The elimination of fossil fuels like coal and implementation of green energy will not only eliminate those harmful conditions but as a result, it will also lower health insurance prices, leaving even more money in the pockets of working families.
In addition to the overwhelming scientific evidence that energy production rooted in nonrenewable resources is killing our environment, they also keep everyday consumers from getting the added economic advantage of renewable energy. Not only will green energy save our economy in the next two decades by saving the climate, but it will also put money directly into the pockets of consumers and cause the market to flourish. I am so excited to be a part of this energy revolution, and cannot wait to see the world I am confident will exist in 30 years.