Why we are not switching to renewable energy sources?

by tj on February 24, 2007

renewable energy sourcesMany people don’t realize that we do have technologies that are viable and can be used to generate energy cleanly. We can effectively reduce the dependency on oil, and use renewable fuel in our cars and planes. Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world and even though there are so many benefits to switching to new energy sources, we don’t see enough change to really make a noticeable difference.

The one major hurdle to many of the alternate energy sources is economics. Oil is a very efficient energy source and there is still plenty of it. Not many products can produce 18,000 BTUs per pound, and cost almost the same as bottled watter. Right now, it is as profitable as ever and the demand continues to grow- year after year the petroleum companies are making record breaking profits. Exxon had profits close to 10 billion dollars as reported by USA Today. This is more than the government budget of Ecuador and about two times the size of the debt of my country- the Dominican Republic.

Economic wise, it will continue to make sense to harvest more oil, as long as demand continue to grow. This will not be reduced unless the price of oil is so high that people completely change their habits. In plain English, as soon as the oil reaches 10 or 15 dollars per gallon we’ll start seeing changes. This is not going to happen until oil starts to become scarce.

Use of electricity for cars- Three problems. Cost. Adds to the cost of the car about $3000. Electricity is as clean as the source. Given the fact that 75% of the electricity in the use does not use renewable sources, makes electricity an unreal alternative.

Hydrogen- Requires changes to the cars we drive. Additionally, requires specialized facilities to distribute and contain it. It is still very expensive. It is said that it takes a lot of fossil energy with today’s technologies to harvest hydrogen. The pollution caused by producing hydrogen, outweighs the benefits it produce.

Solar energy, wind energy, and nuclear power- These are renewable or cleaner, of course. The initial investment is very high. In particular wind turbines assuming the collateral such as maintenance is almost zero, and the life span of the mill is 20 years, just match the cost of other sources. However, the initial investment is high, rendering the ROI very high.

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