Sustainability is about living well within the means that nature provides. If we want sustainable communities, local renewable energy should power them.
This is a simple concept that luckily is technically feasible to achieve. The challenge is to develop political will to do so.
The quality of our lives depends on having lots of energy to do things for us.
We use energy to:
Heat and light our homes, schools and businesses
Run electric and electronic equipment such as computers, televisions and telephones
Run our cars, trucks, airplanes, ships and trains
All our energy comes ultimately from the sun and stars. We usually think of our energy sources as either renewable energy (like hydroelectric power or power from wind turbines), or fossil fuels (like coal, oil and natural gas).
Renewable energy comes from new solar power. The sun shines on the earth and evaporates the water, which then falls and makes energy at hydroelectric dams. The sun warms the air causing it to expand and move across the surface, thus creating wind, used to turn wind turbines that make electricity. Lastly, the sun also makes plants grow, and these plants can be burned for energy; for example in a woodstove.
There is enough sunshine falling on the earth every day to power the world for 27 years! We can capture and use some of this energy by installing solar cells, by building wind turbines and by building waste-to-energy plants to get our energy.