Alternative Energy Sources

1 January 2017

Right now, the world’s energy demand is greatly increasing mostly because of population growth. Even though the rate of population growth is very diverse in different countries, the world’s population doubles about every thirty years. The world energy use is doubling every fourteen years (Hodgson). Still, the main energy source is oil. The other primary source of energy is coal and there is still plenty of it.

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The only problem is that coal is even more polluting than oil, which can lead to climate change and acid rain. These are the reasons why the world is in an energy crisis right now. This world needs clean energy sources to meet the population’s energy needs as soon as possible. This combination of an increasing need for energy and a decreasing supply of oil and coal shows that alternative energy sources can be what will help to stop the world’s energy crisis. There are many different types of renewable energy sources and they all work in different ways.

Most alternative energy sources give off little to no pollution and help reduce global warming. Also, renewables end up paying for themselves in as little as five years. A few popular alternative energy sources are wind power, solar power, hydropower, and biomass power. The use of alternative energy sources should be increased because they decrease global warming, do not give off pollution, are renewable and cost-effective. Since oil and coal are not renewable resources and the environment that we live in is highly polluted, there are some questions that bring up many arguments.

Questions such as: Should the use of alternative energy sources be increased dramatically or not at all? Or are these alternative energy sources really going to help save the environment? And will these alternative energy sources be the solution to the world’s energy crisis? In spite of the arguments, some believe alternative energy use should be increased for certain reasons and others believe they should not be increased, also, for certain reasons. Although I believe that alternative energy sources should be increased, some experts say otherwise.

My opponents argue that coal and oil are still much better than renewable energy sources. Admittedly, a problem with renewable resources is that they are, on average, much harder to collect, transport, and store than fossil fuel resources (Mills). People are working on fixing this problem so that renewables will be able to be easily transported and stored. This is also one of the very few large problems with alternative energy sources. Some experts also believe that legislative inadequacies, high costs, and powerful fossil fuel lobbies are the big reasons why renewable energy sources should not be used yet (Anderson).

Fossil fuel costs have increased and will continue to increase. The costs of renewables will remain abundant and will begin to steadily decrease with time. Granted, there are still powerful fossil fuel lobbies but fossil fuels are a nonrenewable resource. With world energy use doubling every fourteen years, fossil fuels will run out quicker than we can imagine. It is true that alternative energy sources have some downfalls but I believe fossil fuels have more hazardous disadvantages. I believe that the use of alternative energy sources should be increased for many reasons.

One major reason is that unlike fossil fuels, renewable energy sources are not bad for the environment. Essentially, the environment could benefit dramatically from the use of alternative energy sources because they produce little to no pollution and do not contribute to global warming. Fossil fuel-based electricity generation may have lower production costs but the external costs are what people should really be worried about. “Pollution has been linked to human health costs, higher health insurance rates, missed work, and even death” (Anderson).

Acid rain and global warming have also been attributed to the use of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels affect the health of the entire human population. Alternative energy sources will not cause health issues and will also help by reducing global warming. The environment, now and for the future, is counting on people to stop the pollution, global warming, and other negative environmental impacts that are cause by fossil fuels. Each type of alternative energy sources has different costs, ways in which they work, along with advantages and disadvantages.

Wind power is the most promising renewable energy source. The total energy in the wind is more than enough to satisfy all of our energy needs (Hodgson). Another advantage of wind power is that it is extremely easy to take care of. Wind power is very efficient because it uses natural wind so no pollution is produced. Some believe that wind power should not be used because it decreases the bird population dramatically by killing birds.

The number of birds killed by wind turbines is not large though. A two-year study of the Altamont Pass project reported 182 dead birds” (Anderson). To some people, that may seem like a lot but a study was done at a single coal-fired power plant and it recorded about 3000 bird deaths. When comparing the two for bird deaths, wind turbines are much, much better than coal power plants. That pretty much sums it up for wind power. Another type of alternative energy source is solar power. Solar power uses the sun’s heat to generate electricity. Since the sun is natural, solar power also does not produce any pollution.

Solar power can be used by solar panels that homes and small businesses could use to generate electricity. Solar power is cost-effective also. One problem with solar power is that when the sun is not out, little electricity can be generated. This problem is in the process of being fixed by finding a way to store extra electricity. Hydroelectric power uses wind turbines, which are spun by water stored behind dams. Hydropower is safe and produces a good amount of energy. Hydroelectric power can cause a number of changes to ecosystem. However, each project is different.

Differences between reservoir-based systems and run-off-the-river projects, as well as differences between each individual facility, make it impossible to generalize on the environmental impacts of hydroelectric power” (Anderson). People may criticize hydropower because they think each project has the same environmental impacts but that is not so true. Last but not least, biomass power. Biomass power is very similar to hydropower but it differs by the form of water that it uses. Biomass power uses turbines, which are spun by steam produced using the heat of burning plant matter. Biomass is organic since it uses plant matter.

A problem that arises with the use of biomass power is that it can give off a little amount of air pollution but not close to the amount that fossil fuels do. “Conventional biomass plants have emissions similar to coal-fired power plants, except that there are only trace amounts of sulfur dioxide and toxic metals produced” (Anderson). The use of biomass power can still greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to the use of fossil fuels. The advantages of these alternative energy sources are so large that they weigh out the disadvantages. Should the use of alternative energy sources be increased?

It’s up to you now. You can either help the environment by being part of the solution or you can harm the environment and continue to use fossil fuels for everything.

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