Were you aware that more than 60 percent of the world’s total energy is non-renewable? This has had a major impact on the planet and involves the use of renewable sources of energy. More popularly called renewable energy, alternative energy refers to energy produced from unlimited revenues in contrast to rapidly depleting fossil fuels. Geothermal, tidal, solar, and wind power are potential alternatives. It is known as renewable, as it never runs out and can be substituted. In a time when there was a global surplus of fossil fuels, non-renewable energy was introduced. However, with the current trend and the rise in global warming, humans should switch to alternative energy sources as it is more likely to reduce overhead costs, improve public health and environment quality as well as cause a considerable reduction in dependency on fossil fuels.
One of the strongest arguments in support of renewable energy is the minimal emissions it produces in comparison to non-renewable energy sources such as natural gas and coal. Human activities have caused a rise in global warming in the recent decades with a majority of the green gasses contributing to a majority of this environmental degradation. The overload of greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and Sulphur dioxide are the major contributors and trap heat which in turn increases the earth’s temperature. This has an adverse impact on the health of people in the world and the climate (Twidell & Weir, 2015). On the other hand, these greenhouse gasses such as Sulphur dioxides causes the occurrence of acidic rain which destroys buildings. Renewable energy sources, on the other hand, is considered a clean energy source in comparison to fossil fuels. They have a lower environmental impact as they produce little to no emissions having a small impact on the environment. Renewable energy sources are considered eco-friendly as they sustain the environment and have no effect on air or water thus no pollution is caused. Alternative energy has no print on the grid of global warming as all it does reduce global warming emissions.
On the other hand, alternative energy sources are considered renewable in comparison to fossil fuels. This is because they are sourced from sources that cannot be depleted such as water and the wind. Weather is a common phenomenon that we all expect an occurrence of. An energy source like wind is quite renewable as it is considered to recur several times even though at times we can rarely feel its effect. Tidal energy is sourced from wave energy. Waves in the ocean are a natural occurrence that occurs daily, and use of this technology to harness energy reduces overhead costs considerably. Over a lifetime, renewable energy sources are unlikely to get depleted as they can be seen as sustainable. Fossil fuels are limited, and in the recent past, it has been noted that there is a dip in a number of fossil fuels worldwide. A good example is the oil reserves in the Middle East which have seen countries like the United Arab Emirates to source for alternative sources of income such as tourism like the Buj Khalifa in Dubai. Developing countries have had a huge reliance on fossil fuels, and this can be transformed through the shift to renewable energy like geothermal, wind, and tidal energy.
Additionally, an argument that supports the use of alternative energy sources is that renewable energy causes stable energy prices. Changes to renewable energy will result in the stability of energy prices worldwide. Fossil fuels are highly dependent on different variables like trade prices, resource availability, and inflation. It is prone to vary, and this may have a negative effect on the economy of a nation with a huge dependency on fossil fuels. Renewable energy, on the other hand, may have a high initial cost as the installation of infrastructure and during the setting up of technologies. However, over time, the prices of fuel are highly likely to reduce. The prices of installation of renewable energy sources have reduced as a consequence of the increase in demand and ease in production. This projected reduction is likely to cause a dip in the cost of installation of renewable energy sources. This will mean that the costs incurred will only be by respective governments during infrastructure development. The operation of a renewable energy power plan is low as maintenance is less costly and the fuel is free as it sourced majorly from naturally occurring elements like water, wind, and ocean waves. A government would be wise to invest in renewable energy as this long term investment would translate into a saving spree for their population in their utilities as well as reduce fossil fuel price volatility exposure (Union of Concerned Scientists, n.d).
Most proponents of renewable energy sources argue that fossil fuels power plants result in problems in the quality of public health and the environment. In light of this argument, a delve into the effects of non-renewable energy shows that it results in water and air pollution which can lead to various health issues such as neurological damage, heart attacks, breathing problems, and cancer. Lost work days and premature mortality have been associated with fossil fuels, and use of renewable energy will reduce this. Most forms of renewable energy are known to have little to no air pollution emissions. Even though geothermal and biomass energy known to emit air pollutants, they are considerably lower than those produced by natural gas and coal power plants. Additionally, fossil fuels pose a high risk to water as they require water in operations for cooling. This is likely to result in a strain on water resources which could have been directed to other uses such as drinking, agriculture, and other high priority water needs. This negative impact on water resources is the primary cause of pollution as mining and production are ongoing. Hydroelectric water systems affect water supply and are likely to cause pollution in case of leaks. This increases the appeal of renewable energy sources as they need no water for operations to occur.
Another argument brought forward by supporters of renewable energy is that the systems used in the production of renewable energy are that they require little maintenance in comparison to fossil fuels. The inception of a renewable energy power plant once laid down requires little maintenance as the infrastructure and technology used is such that it is self-maintaining. For example in wind energy production, most of the materials used are indestructible by the wind and routine maintenance is only done to remove trapped objects will is cheap. The owners of a facility that deals with renewable energy production are likely to have a huge profit margin as a result is a small price for the commodity. On the other hand, fossil fuel power plants require high maintenance as there are numerous residues that need to be removed. The waste generated is also most likely toxic, and this needs to be dealt with in a safe way to prevent pollution requiring higher maintenance facilities and translating into higher prices (Weitemeyer, et al., 2015).
Opponents of renewable energy have had a field day exploring the disadvantages of the alternative as they feel that it is it is quite unreliable, not sufficient enough to meet current needs, and has high upfront capital outlay. Technologies used in the production of renewable energy sources are quite new to the market causing apprehension as they have not been well understood. This may pose a problem in the projections made in the industry. However, this may be disputed as renewable energy technologies have proven to be withstanding and production seems to be rising with each passing day. In addition to this, the high amount of upfront capital outlay has seen a decrease in the venturing into the alternative energy sources.
The opponents of alternative energy argue that there is an overreliance on weather conditions and geography in generating the energy. Each of the forms of renewable energy sources is only suitable for specific geographical locations. Thus, they cannot be set up and used for power generation at any location. For example, in the utilization of geothermal power, one must situate it in areas with natural steam that can be harnessed to produce electricity. Similarly, one cannot generate hydro-electric power without a source of rapid moving water with the capacity to rotate the turbines. Additionally, alternative energy is associated with incontinence issues. For instance, solar energy water heater demonstrates inefficiency because it is high dependent on energy from the sun. Therefore, during the winter season, it is difficult to use this form of energy although it is very efficient during the summer. Moreover, although a majority of the renewable sources are highly efficient and environmentally friendly, some have demonstrated devastating effects on the environment. For instance, the hydroelectric power generation project has caused drastic alternations particularly to the wildlife and ecosystem along the rivers. Besides, the possibility of the flood is also high.
In summary, although the alternative energy sources have numerous advantages with regards to efficiency and quick production of electricity and other forms of energy, they still demonstrate particular setback. One of the main reasons for the support of renewable energy sources is because of their minimal emissions they produce in comparison to non-renewable energy sources such as natural gas and coal. Another argument that supports the use of alternative energy sources is that renewable energy causes stable energy prices. Moreover, the systems used in the production of renewable energy is that they require little maintenance in comparison to fossil fuels. Although these energy sources are high preferred, they have proved too expensive. Besides, they have also demonstrated some inconveniences related to weather conditions and their suitable locations.
Twidell, J., & Weir, T. (2015). Renewable energy resources. Routledge.
Union of Concerned Scientists (n.d).Benefits of Renewable Energy Use. Retrieved on 22 April 2016 from http://www.ucsusa.org/clean-energy/renewable-energy/public-benefits-of-renewable-power#.WPt7ofmGPIW.
Weitemeyer, S., Kleinhans, D., Vogt, T., & Agert, C. (2015). Integration of Renewable Energy Sources in future power systems: The role of storage. Renewable Energy, 75, 14-20.