The Hard Facts About Renewable Energy

Samik Mukherjee

As a rule, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Renewable energy sources, while a great idea, still have a way to go before we can honestly call them “green. Below, Samik Mukherjee discusses the less savory aspects of renewable energy—and perhaps how to deal with them in the future.

Demand > Supply (for Now)

Currently, the demand for secure, affordable energy is at its peak.
The industry is facing a two-pronged challenge in terms of demand:

  • Demand mix in Europe and Asia is changing due to uncertainty and affordability concerns, due to the war in Ukraine and the dependence on Russian gas by Europe
  • Increased demand due to population growth and aspiration of a growing middle class to improve quality of life.

And a three-pronged pressure on supply:

  • Lack of investment in traditional Oil & Gas due to increased concerns – sometimes overplayed – about reliance on so-called fossil fuels
  • Scarcity of minerals, including rare earth metals to drive energy transition to support solar, wind and other renewable projects
Samik Mukherjee

Recycling Is Not as Efficient as People Think

Many people try to save resources by recycling, but it’s not as effective as people think it is.

For example, not all types of plastic can be recycled. Neither can solar panels; solar panels contain hazardous materials like cadmium and lead and the batteries used to store solar and wind power have a short lifespan and are generally not reusable. Components such as silicon, glass, and metal can be recycled, but other heavy metals cannot.

Solar and Wind Power Are Both Intermittent

Intermittent power supply is a major challenge in solar and wind energy production, as they depend on weather conditions. Effective energy storage solutions and backup systems are critical to ensure a continuous power supply, especially during peak demand and unsavory weather conditions.

People Aren’t Ready

“You can’t handle the… solar power” – A simple fact about renewable energy is that the costs and effort to retrofit systems mean that many homeowners just are not ready for solar power.

Without heavy government subsidies, switching to renewables would be so cost prohibitive as to price most people out of the market. It’s commonly found that even with those state and federal rebates, the average breakeven period for someone investing in home solar power is about 15 years.

And it’s not just the costs – being unfamiliar with alternative energy systems, anticipated learning curves, and concerns about downtime all contribute to the slow adoption we see across the board.


The demand for secure, sustainable and affordable energy has never been higher.

There’s a real push in the US and among many European countries to break our reliance on oil as soon as possible.

But it’s not realistic to forgo traditional energy just yet; this change must be gradual and approached pragmatically, lest we face a major energy crisis generated by regulation that essentially saws off the branch we happen to be standing upon.

Samik Mukherjee
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