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Can Alternative Energy Effectively Replace Fossil Fuels

Many environmental organizations in the United States, Canada, and other areas of the world have recently supported a policy known as the 100 percent clean and green water, wind, and sunlight (WWS) vision, which seeks to minimize or limit the use of fossil fuels such as natural gas, oil, and coal. By 2014, Portugal had generated 62 percent of its electricity from renewable energies, earning the country praise from the International Energy Agency (Lyman, 3). Will the rest of the world learn from Portugal's attempts to pursue renewable energy? The answer to the question depends on the extent of the use of alternative energy vis-à-vis fossil fuels in the modern world and future efforts by different government across the world to achieve 100% clean energy.
Climate change continues to become a global concern with the solution resting on the ability of the world to foster the use of alternative energy sources and as such, replace the use of fossil fuels. World scientists believe that it is difficult to attain sustainable development without significant reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases that come from the combustion of fossil fuels. Nevertheless, many countries do not have comprehensive policies that aid in devoting resources to use alternative energy sources. Accordingly, this paper argues that alternative energy cannot adequately replace fossil fuels. Replacing fossil fuels is difficult to take place soon due to a series of reasons. Such reasons include the infeasibility of the goal,
Reasons Alternative Energy Cannot Effectively Replace Fossil Fuels
The feasibility of replacing fossil fuels with alternative energy raises a series of concerns than answers. The most cited reports of the viability of 100% clean energy include the works of Jacobson Mark and Mark Delucchi et al. that employed similar methodologies and models in the analysis of the energy situation in the U.S. and other parts of the world (Lyman 6). Ideally, the world uses three cubic miles of oil annually showing the extent of the need for hydrocarbons in different countries. Besides, the hydrocarbons such as coal, natural gas, and oil are storable, dense and portable; they characterize essential byproducts that support many spin-off industries in the world (Lyman 6). Therefore, there is no easy and straightforward way to move from such energy sources to renewable ones as the producers of all renewable energy also depend on natural resources and fossil fuels to carry out their works. Besides, some of the renewable energy sources such as wind have low density hence cannot support the demands of the world. Manufacturing of renewable energy also calls for adequate availability of materials that may be unstainable in the long-run.
Another reason alternative energy cannot replace fossil fuels is the nature of consumption of the two sources in the transport sector. Conventional energy sources such as oil provide over 95% of fuel demand in the transportation sector. Every mode of transport an individual may choose to use including train, marine vessels, cars, aircraft or cars among others heavily relies on petroleum fuels almost entirely (York 441). Deficient percentage of alternative energy sources such as ethanol and natural gas liquids have made their way to the transportation sector. Notably, the industry plays a fundamental role in the growth of any economy as it fosters movement of people, communication, trade, and defense. It, therefore, requires reliable energy that can only be provided through exploration of traditional energy such as fossil fuels (York 441). The argument that alternative energy will be reliable and thus replace fossil fuels is a case of a foreseeable future that people cannot rely on.
Furthermore, alternative energy cannot replace fossil fuels because it is not as reliable as the conventional sources of energy (Shafiee and Erkan 181). The modern society depends on available power to run its activities. If energy goes down, the flow of activities in the society becomes disrupted. For instance, what happens when the city of New York and London go without power for over 15 hours, no ATMs, no sewage pumps, communications, no internet? The disruptions that inadequate power causes significantly affect the running of different societies in a country. As such, under no realistic circumstance can renewable energy the targeted demand for the energy requirements. Therefore, converting all the use of energy such as transportation, cooling, heating, production, and electricity to be powered by solar, water and wind can only lead to the creation of more problems than solutions to environmental sustainability. As such, it is impossible to close all energy consumption and production associated with fossil fuels.
Counterargument and Refutation
Despite the existing reasons outlining the difficulties or impossibilities of completely replacing the use of fossil fuels through alternative energy sources, market forces may activate policy response to the problem of rising consumption of fossil fuel and as such, foster its replacement (Covert, Michael and Christophe 120). As such, the continuing consumption of fossil fuels in various countries across the globe can cause the marginal cost of fossil fuels be more than the use of clean energy technologies. The world can thus run out of inexpensive fossil fuels and opt for the use of alternative energy sources. Besides, the advances in technology and the efforts of scientists to solve the problem of climate change will lead to the development of newer and cheaper alternative energy, which in turn can replace fossil fuels. Notably, fossil fuels are unsustainable, contributor to global climate change, environmentally destructive, and inefficient and as such, sources of alternative energy such as bio fuels, geothermal, hydrogen and solar energy among others can meet energy demands hence the possibility of replacing fossil fuels (Covert, Michael and Christophe 120).
Nevertheless, the counterargument citing the possibility of alternative energy replacing fossil fuels lacks fundamental merits and concepts of the modern society. The cost of alternative energy is higher than that of the fossil fuels as clean energy involves production activities that are not cost-effective as claimed. It can be a waste of time and resources to switch entirely to such kind of energies based on cost argument (Crawford 323). Notably, all sources of clean energy are very expensive to install. They also require a higher level of maintenance. Besides, it can be cost prohibitive to ensure that solar energy becomes mainstream for the major world consumption and production future. While technology exists for business and consumer applications, it is expensive to replace the current energy infrastructure to incorporate alternative sources. The environmental concerns should not be a significant concern for replacing fossil fuels with alternative energy sources while ignoring the feasibility and reliability of the strategy. Both sources of energy are dangerous to the environment as well as human beings hence the need to devise efficient ways of solving environmental menace. For instance, hydro energy systems involve constructions of dams, which in turn destroy the habitat of the rivers or lakes.
Conclusion
Climate change continues to become a global concern with the solution resting on the ability of the world to foster the use of alternative energy sources and as such, replace the use of fossil fuels. Nevertheless, the above analysis shows that alternative energy cannot fossil fuels given its reliability and cost-effective nature. Besides, the plans that the International Energy Agency has in place to enforce the replacement is not feasible. If this position is taken, governments and energy agencies will have adequate plan to use both clean and conventional energy sources.

Works Cited
Covert, Thomas, Michael Greenstone, and Christopher R. Knittel. "Will we ever stop using fossil fuels?." The Journal of Economic Perspectives 30.1 (2016): 117-137.
Crawford, W. Donham. "the cost of clean energy." Journal of the Air Pollution Control Association 19.5 (1969): 322-324.
Lyman, Robert. Why Renewable Energy cannot Replace Fossil Fuels by 2050. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.friendsofscience.org/assets/documents/Renewable-energy-cannot-replace-FF_Lyman.pdf
Shafiee, Shahriar, and Erkan Topal. "When will fossil fuel reserves be diminished?." Energy policy 37.1 (2009): 181-189.
York, Richard. "Do alternative energy sources displace fossil fuels?." Nature Climate Change 2.6 (2012): 441-443.

July 24, 2021

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