It is important for the people to focus on ways to protect and conserve both the environment and climate for the future generations. This is a process that demands a lot of involvement in various fields, including socially, scientifically and economically. The shift of attention to renewable energy and the resourceful conversion of fossil fuel help to achieve the main goal, which is protecting both the climate and the environment. Alternative energy is a form of renewable energy that does not have waste-matters, including solar, hydro and wind energy. In examining the possibilities of alternative energy sources, it is important to observe a few factors (Anand, Meenan and Suneel 87). Firstly, energy has a variety of uses that can be put into two categories namely dynamic fuels for transportation and static fuels for heat and electricity generation. The dynamic applications have been dependent on oil, whereas static applications have relied on coal, natural gas and water power. Secondly, the production of energy involves a variety of processes that are interrelated and interdependent.
An example of the various elements in generation of energy can be seen in oil. The first step involves obtaining the rights to drill the oil, before exploration. This is followed by transportation of the crude oil to a refinery before distribution of the refined oil, in order for it to satisfy the consumer. The process is subject to interruption through either natural factors like hurricanes or human interference like political instability, leading to shortages. The proposal of alternative energy sources should consider viability, as in the proposed production of hydrogen as a dynamic fuel (Cooke 1). Thirdly, the level of risk involved in the production of alternative energy sources should be considered. These include the cost of constructing a plant, inaccuracies in planning the expenditure, effect on the environment, variation of the market and amount of capital, among others.
The risk is even greater when the proposed alternative source of energy has not been tested. Lastly, the proposed form of energy should be capable of implementation without any form of support from the government, either technically or financially. This implies that it should not be dependent on subsidies or special regulations aimed at promoting either its manufacture or utilization (Cooke 1).
Assessing the varieties of energy
The presented alternative energy sources are not equal, as they each have their own limitations.
The various sources of energy can be evaluated based on the performance of the common energy sources in use every day. The items to be considered in assessing the performance of these energy sources are listed below.
The energy must be presented to the consumer in a manner that is acceptable based on their income. This implies that the energy must be reasonably priced, so as to fit in their budget.
The alternatives of energy presented are usually targeted at the low income earners, to improve their standards of living at low cost. The rich people are observed to be less affected by high prices since regardless of the price, energy takes up a small portion of their income. This implies that the research and development of energy solutions has to be aimed at the low income earners.
The alternative energy sources have to be viable within the limits provided by the economy of the nation so as to ensure that the production costs are lower than the market price to avoid political interference (Dresselhaus1 and Thomas 133).
Energy returned on energy invested
The amount of energy produced must be in excess of that used in its production. If this is not possible, then production of that energy would be redundant since there would be less energy for distribution to the consumer. The ratio of EROEI should be more than 1:1 to ensure surplus for distribution. The current trends which have led to drilling of oil in challenging surroundings like in the ocean has seen the ratio decline from 100:1 in the ‘70’s to 10:1, and it may soon be impractical to extract the oil. There are models used to estimate the energy used to research, develop, produce and carry out other operations in the processes within, before the energy reaches the final consumer.
Other models are used to determine the excessive costs that may result from waste or effect on the environment (ESE 65).
Oil has provided a substitute to energy intensive tasks that require a lot of human effort, though its scarcity has led people to find alternatives in the production of biomass. Some farmers are observed to grow items like sugar cane from multiple purposes, where the sap is distilled, while the residue is fed to cattle.
Cattle manure and stillage, on the other hand, are used for the generation of biogas, which runs the generator that runs the distillery, and provides lighting and power for other farm operations. The alternative energy source in this case is labor intensive, and denies people valuable time that would be used for other productive activities, therefore taking us back in time, when most activities required a lot of effort from individuals (Dresselhaus1 and Thomas 143).
The evaluation of the alternative sources of energy need to consider various attributes including its reliability, possibilities for mass production and distribution.
The technological advancements are capable of manipulating the hydrocarbon chain leading to new sources of energy that may not satisfy the energy requirements of the consumer based on the processes involved to produce it. An example is the manufacture of fuel from animal fat, which is not sufficient to satisfy the increasing demands for energy, or replace the diminishing sources of energy (Gupta 34).
The alternative sources of energy should be easily adjustable to the present infrastructure used for delivery and utilization. The infrastructure includes safety, reliability, handling and transportation of the alternative source, in similar channels to those that are already in place. Appropriate infrastructure is one of the limitations for the adoption of hydrogen as an alternative source of energy, since the infrastructure in place would have to be replaced, which is labor intensive, time consuming and costly (Maharashtra 78).
The production of the alternative sources of energy should be more efficient than using the resources used in the production process.
An example is the use of land for ethanol crop production as opposed to using the land for the production of food, if the addition of ethanol to gasoline would lead to decreased emissions of greenhouse gases (Maharashtra 102).
The need and search for alternative sources of energy is due to the acknowledgement of the fact that the usual energy sources are polluting and non-renewable. This implies that these energy sources are limited, and the options presented by the situation require us to either reduce our energy usage or find alternative energy sources. Alternative energy options are beneficial in that they lead to more development opportunities in the countryside due to management of their own energy needs. The energy sources are also less harmful to the environment, less harmful to human health and provide sustainable fuel systems. The advantages of introducing alternative energy sources are many, though there are a number of risks and the limitations posed. It is however necessary to overcome the limitations and conduct more research to minimize the risks, in order to provide new sources of energy that can meet the high consumer needs, as well as replace the no renewable ones (ESE 56).
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