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Alternative energy serves to replace dominant sources of energy without imposing dangers associated with the replaced energy forms such as fossil fuels. The inception of alternative energy had the primary objective of addressing the problems created by dominant energy sources such as environmental degradation and the risk of depletion. Presently, the global demand for energy is growing, and the dominant sources of energy are in the brink of depletion. This implies that alternative forms of energy are the perceived solution to the impending energy crisis (Hargrave, 2011). However, the subject of what makes alternative energy is a contentious topic; however, the bottom line is that the production and use of alternative energy does not result in significant environmental impacts such as the greenhouse gas emissions from fossil energy, which is a primary cause of global warming. The National Resources Defense Council defines alternative energy as an environment friendly source of energy. The core concept is renewability and that they are not derived from fossil fuels. Irrespective of the fact that alternative energy has the potential of solving the looming energy crisis, supporters of dominant energy sources claim that fossil fuels have played an integral role in revolutionizing the life on earth. In fact, 90% of earth’s energy comes from fossil fuels, indicating the level of reliance on the non-renewable energy forms that are increasingly being depleted. Those advocating for fossil energy cite efficiency issues associated fossil energy in the sense that fossil energy is more efficient than most alternative forms of energy. The existing concerns regarding fossil energy entail issues like resource overuse, negative environmental impacts, safety issues, and the diminishing supply of fossil energy. These concerns have increased the debate regarding the best form of energy.
Hargrave (2011) asserts that most setbacks and advantages of fossil energy indicate that human beings are exceedingly reliant on fossil energy. Hargrave further argues that the hurdles of fossil energy result from the overexploitation and reckless usage. Despite the fact that alternative energy has the potential of meeting the energy needs of the future, Hargrave claims that their development and infrastructure needs significant time and investment. The bottom line of Hargrave’s argument is that, provided there is rational and efficient use of fossil fuels, then the problem of looming energy crisis can be solved without the need of establishing alternative forms of energy. Therefore, people should be encouraged and educated on the efficient use of the invaluable energy sources with the goal of saving the precious resources of the earth. There are numerous hurdles associated with alternative energy, including minimal research and development that have been funded to ensure effective exploitation of the alternative energy sources. This questions the viability of alternative energy to meet the future energy demands, which increases concerns as to whether alternative energy is the best form of energy for the future. A second drawback of most forms of alternative energy is that they are not 100 % environment friendly as proposed. The technologies used to harness alternative energy impose low levels of environmental contamination. An example is the toxic heavy metals used in making solar energy harnessing equipments. Battery cells used in the storage of solar energy emit some toxic gases to the environment, which in turn increases safety and health concerns regarding the use of some forms of alternative energy. However, this does not impose significant concern, when manufactures comply with the existing environmental protection and health policies. Hargrave (2011) cites another potential drawback of alternative energy claiming that overreliance on alternative energy is extremely costly due to the initial set up expenditures that may not be affordable for the average household. This implies that alternative energy will be a reserve for high-income households and corporate organizations that have adequate funds to set up the technologies required to harness such energy. Hargrave further asserts that the setbacks associated with alternative energy have already been solved with dominant energy sources such as fossil energy. For instance, fossil energy is highly efficient because of their high calorific value, which results in the production of abundant energy. In addition, the infrastructure used in harnessing and supplying fossil energy is fully established, implying that their transportation and storage is relatively easy than alternative energy. Fossil energy is extremely cheaper than to alternative energy because of their easy extraction. Hargrave (2011) concludes that fossil energy provides room for sustainable development if used rationally and efficiently, implying that they have the potential of meeting the global energy demands.
Despite the potential advantages associated with conventional sources of energy, it is becoming apparent that they are in the verge of exploitation, which imposes the need to establish alternative forms of energy to address the impending crisis. Despite the abundance of fossil energy forms like natural gas and oil, resource exploitation has led to their considerable depletion, which questions their ability to create sustainable development. The second hurdle of conventional energy forms is that they are the largest contributors of greenhouse emissions and harmful gases into the atmosphere, which causes global warming, acid rain and threatens ecological sustenance. Despite conventional energy being cheap, there is the likelihood that the cost of harnessing fossil energy will continue to increase, especially when the reserves are increasingly diminishing. Advocates for conventional energy sources claim that there are methods that are currently existing to monitor pollution emissions during fossil energy production and use; however, the reality is that the methods are extremely costly and expensive, which in turn serves to increase the cost of energy. Safety advancements in the extraction of conventional energy have increased in the recent years; however, the fact is that the extraction processes are increasingly becoming dangerous as mining goes deeper and towards environment sensitive areas such as beneath the oceans.
Solar energy is one of the forms of alternative energy cited by those advocating for alternative energy. Irrespective of the fact that utilization of this source is limited by weather conditions, as there is no guarantee that the sun will always be there to supply energy, implying that solar energy is not subject to depletion. This is in contrary with the conventional energy sources like oil, which face the risk of depletion depending on their level of usage. When compared to fossil energy, solar energy is more environmental friendly than conventional forms of energy. Solar energy costs are also declining, implying that its global distribution is rapidly increasingly. Other advantages of solar energy are that it requires low mountainous and no fuel; this means that the operation and maintenance costs are relatively lower than other forms of energy. This guarantees energy security, especially in the wake of oil and gas disruptions. Solar energy has unlimited potential since its supply does not depend on human activities. Despite these numerous advantages, solar energy suffers drawbacks such as high capital investment and its intermittent nature in the sense that its production depends on the intensity of the sun. However, this limitation can be overcome using energy storage.
In conclusion, the benefits associated with alternative forms of energy far outweigh the setbacks compared to forms of conventional energy. The harnessing of alternative energy may be perceived as the world’s next step to reduce carbon emission from burning of fossil fuels. The arguments cited by pro-fossil energy groups do not serve to address the impending energy crisis. It is a fact that global energy demand is increasing, implying that the solution rests in the establishment of new forms of energy, rather than advocating for efficient use of energy sources that are already becoming depleted. The new techniques developed in the harnessing of alternative energy have made it easier for more and more corporations to come up with solar powered devices that will go into the market soon. The developments have become possible through funding from organizations around the globe that have a goal of reducing energy costs and carbon emissions, while at the same time ensuring sustainable energy supply.