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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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

RemyC February 25, 2007 at 1:20 am

Who says we are not? We are everyday… The government may not be moving as quickly as we would like it to… because it’s just there to keep the old machines fueled… but we’re building new ones, all the time, wind, solar, etc… We just need to empower people, with great new power house financing institutions, like http://www.ted.com for example… billions invested into alternative energy by companies like Yahoo, Google… and tycons like Gates and Branson… and the Native Americans, investing their casino earning in wind farms and nuclear waste transmutation… We’re on our way, we’re doing good, we just need to take the monster down, and we’re doing that, at Indian Point.

Walter February 25, 2007 at 7:12 am

Very apt comments, pls review my web page http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/h2energy4all
Note H2 production by RE methods (Solar PV Wind & or tidal turbines is now, with the latest technology, getting costs for H2 much closer to the Gas Gallon Equivalent of H2 (GGE)

William February 25, 2007 at 4:29 pm

I disagree with this article about electric not being a good alternative source. Yes I know it would replace the pipe for the smoke-stack. But if we started to change the infrastructure to solar and wind, and not use coal powered plants, then electric would work great in fact with solar and wind combined with electric is the best way to go these days. It’s the most affordable, of course thats if it were massed produced. But like you said the world is very greedy and won’t give up that oil for the profits thier making. All that I know is that GM mass produced an electric car and it worked, if the nation was to create solar stations that produced the electricity and go away from coal to produce the baterries, then it would be quite effective. The technology is there, and the governments of the world need to come together and begin the task of converting our infrastructure instead of fighting over oil and money. If this was to happen the people of the world would follow.

Christopher Haase February 26, 2007 at 3:21 pm

Excellent article that embraces many truths and misconceptions people need to embrace to measure “TRUE” alternatives to our environmental and energy crisis.

We have had the tech, tools and infustructer for decades… but, until one of these alternatives “drives” the markets no “power” will move from finacial gains of oil & coal.

Fear & Greed drive markets, not better always alternatives…. that is why it is vital that we also make clear to investors that they can “make green” using greener options.

During the first “global warming”& “Oil War” of the 70′s My father was told that we would be driving “hydrogen powered” hover cars by the time I was his age… I am still waiting.

Christopher Haase February 26, 2007 at 3:30 pm

Yikes, reviewing my comment…. I guess I spell like a “blogger” ;-)

palo34 February 26, 2007 at 9:16 pm

Response to William:
I was listing some of the reasons why we don’t use alternative energies more.
Today, it is debatable if running a car on electric is really cleaner, or cheaper than running on gas. As we become greener, electricity will be produce from cleaner means, which is not the case today.

I do know there are a lot more concern, and it is a reality that many countries are pursuing renewable resources and producing energy from cleaner means. But not at the rate, we would like to.
The biggest hurdle is economics.

devon dalton October 3, 2007 at 6:12 pm

I think that alternative energy is better,but im 14 so i dont have much room to speak of. Running on electicity is cleaner but cuts transportation speed. Thats all i have to say so thanks for listening.

i like using up energy December 2, 2007 at 6:54 pm

I want to use up energy till there is none left for the world

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