In recent years, an increasing number of countries have been relying on advances in technology to develop alternative energy sources with the view to reducing dependence on fossil fuels.
The drive to develop alternative energy sources has been ignited by the high prices of oil and natural gas (Douglass, 2005), the adverse environmental effects associated with use of fossil fuels (Union of Concerned Scientists, 2014), as well as the shocking revelation that man-initiated activities are increasingly depleting available resources including fossil fuels (World Energy Council, 2013). Drawing from this elaboration, the present paper reviews available literature to compare alternative energy sources to fossil fuels.
Background and Description
Available literature demonstrates that fossil fuels represented 82 percent of the total primary energy supply in 2011, though this figure is expected to fall to around 76 percent by 2020 due to the rapid growth of more commercially viable alternative energy sources (World Energy Council, 2013).
Presently, fossil fuels such as petrol and diesel are not only the leading tradable commodities based on their high economic returns for producing countries, but are indispensable for road transport and petrochemical industries due to lack of heavy investments in alternative energy sources.
However, in spite of these gains, fossil fuels are increasingly being associated with adverse outcomes such as high price volatility, depletion of available resources, global warming, geopolitical tensions associated with areas of great reserves, and market domination by leading oil producers (World Energy Council, 2013).
In contrast, alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and biodiesel are not only clean to use due to minimal global warming emissions, but are less costly and demonstrate adequate capacity to stabilize energy prices in the future (Union of Concerned Scientists, 2014).
Additionally, unlike fossil fuels, alternative energy sources have the capacity to improve public health and environmental quality, create more jobs for the economy and reduce disease burden, not mentioning that they are more reliant and resilient (Union of Concerned Scientists, 2014).
Owing to the fact that renewable energy sources have lower exhaust emissions and toxicity compared to available fossil fuels such as petroleum diesel fuel, it is possible that increasing use of these energy sources will have far-reaching effects in reducing global warming and the economic burden of diseases caused by overdependence on fossil fuels.
It is also possible that the cost of energy will be substantially reduced as it is cost effective to, for example, harness vegetable oil from plants for use as biodiesel or develop wind farms to generate electricity (Griffin, 2014). Such a scenario, according to existing literature, will ensure financial resources used in most developing countries to purchase fossil fuels are freed up for use in other sectors such as education and health (World Energy Council, 2013).
Lastly, it is important to mention that increased development of alternative energy sources will go a long way in not only sustaining available resources for future generations, but also reducing the reliance on finite fuel sources such as fossil fuels and the costs associated with such sources (Douglas, 2005). Such predispositions, along with the ability to reduce geopolitical tensions associated with fossil fuels, will go a long way in ensuring global stability and prosperity of present and future generations.
Drawing from this discussion, it can be concluded that alternative energy sources will be at the core of the worlds’ social and economic development in the near future. As such, it is important for governments and other stakeholders to make heavy investments in alternative energy sources to facilitate their continued use and deepen their commercial viability.
Douglas, Sarah E 2005, Identifying the Opportunities in Alternative Energy. PDF file.
Griffin, William. “Renewable Portfolio Standards and the Dormant Commerce Clause: The Case of In-Region Location Requirement.” Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review. 41.1 (2014): 133-165. Academic Search Premier.
Union of Concerned Scientists. Benefits of Renewable Energy Use, 2014.
World Energy Council 2013, World Energy Resources 2013 Survey. PDF file