Sample Essay On Continuous Development Of Alternative Energy
Type of paper: Essay
Topic: Energy, Oil, Solar Energy, Biofuels, Alternative Energy, Food, Ethics, Renewable Energy
Recently, there has been a historic drop in the price of crude oil which made experts question if the development of alternative energy can stand still or struggle with competition on this energy source. However, the U.S. Government Chief Energy Analyst claimed that the drop in oil price will not be a hindrance to the renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power (Goldenberg). When it comes to generation of electricity, oil was not in primary competition with renewable sources. The policies created by the government would be sufficient enough in protecting projects related to clean energy. Policies such as tax incentives and the state energy programmes usually require a certain percentage of energy contribution that must come from renewables. With the knowledge of these policies, the development of alternative energy will definitely push through. Also, there is no definitive span of time that can ensure the energy industry about how long the cheap oil price will be available.
There might be some impacts of cheap oil price on renewable sustained products such as hybrid and electric cars. However, as mentioned earlier, there is no assurance that the oil price will maintain its current status. The prices won’t stay low until the resources run out. There are also several reasons why cheap oil won’t affect the development of renewables (Randall). Solar energy does not compete with oil since they are intended for two different purposes. Solar energy is for electricity and oil is for fuelling cars. The decreasing cost of solar energy also makes it an affordable renewable source. Also, with increasing electricity cost, the real threat to renewables is not cheap oil but cheap electricity. More importantly, what makes the renewables sector stronger is the continuous investment of global markets. With these reasons, the drop in oil price should not be much of a threat to alternative energy.
Ethical and Societal Concerns with 1st and 2nd Generation Biofuels
Biofuels are renewables which can help in mitigating climate change since it aims for zero or low carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases emission as compared to the non-renewable energy sources such as fossil fuels (Jha). Biofuels can further be classified based on first, second and third generation. The first generation biofuels include food crops such as corn, soybean, and oil palm as its feedstock. The second generation biofuels include lignocellulosic materials which are residues from the food crop such as rice straw. Lastly, the third generation biofuels includes algae as its feedstock.
Some of the ethical and societal concerns with biofuels are that it directly competes with food production which further affects the security of food (Jha). Ever since the establishment of biofuels, the issue between food versus fuel has been ignited due to the usage of the first and second generation feedstocks. Many people find the usage of food resources for fuel production unethical. These ideas were due to the fact that food is being used for fuel production and land is being used for plantation of feedstocks instead of allocating these sites as housing for the poor. Furthermore, the exploitation of land for planting feedstocks might also lead to deforestation. Thus, this also affects the state of the environment.
As answer to these issues, the founding of Nuffield Council on Biofuels (NCB) was a big step in establishment of the moral values and ethical principles in the Biofuels industry. The biofuels industry have move forward towards sustainability of its ethical principles which were applied as it develops new ideas (Buyx). With the application of the ethical principles by NCB, the continuous research for alternative sources has led to studies and programmes using trees, agricultural waste and algae as feedstocks which are not in direct competition with food crops. Thus, the third generation feedstocks (algae) were able to relieve the problems with other feedstocks.
Buyx, Alena. “Biofuels: ethical issues.” Fair Fuels. Web. 9 Feb. 2015. <http://www.fair-fuels.de/data/user/Download/Veranstaltungen/Presentation_Buyx_Biofuels_ethical_issues.pdf?PHPSESSID=3d4ab0b81358d7c70d183f7585ecb65f>
Jha, Alok. “Biofuels: can they fuel our lifestyle without taking food from the poor.” The Guardian. 29 Dec. 2009. Web. 9 Feb. 2015. < http://www.theguardian.com/environment/blog/2009/dec/22/biofuels-second-generation-ethics-consultation>
Goldenberg, Suzanne. “Low oil prices won’t hurt renewable energy, say US EIA.” The Guardian. 28 Jan. 2015. Web. 9 Feb. 2015. < http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jan/28/low-oil-prices-wont-hurt-renewable-energy-says-us-eia>
Randall, Tom. “Seven Reasons Cheap Oil Can’t Stop Renewables Now.” Renewable Energy World. 30 Jan. 2015. Web. 9 Feb. 2015. < http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2015/01/seven-reasons-cheap-oil-cant-stop-renewables-now>