Our modern industrial civilization is to a large extent based on using fossil fuels. Still, due to overpopulation, climate change, and the scarcity of resources, one of the most precious and efficient sources of energy, oil, has already started to exhaust (Bode, 2005, p.81). This fact has caused scientists globally to seek for substitutes to fossil fuels to avoid economic and industrial collapse. Experts in the field of sustainable energy have turned their attention increasingly towards solar energy in particular as a viable alternative to fossil fuels.
Solar technology utilizes the Sun’s energy to produce electricity and does not rely on the continual mining of raw materials. Consequently, this does not result in the annihilation of ecosystems, as witnessed in the extraction of fossil fuels. For instance, in the river Niger Delta, an ongoing irresponsible and excessive oil extraction can be witnessed. As a result of this activity, the mass extinction of fish has been observed in the region, as well as the abandonment of whole villages where people used to live on fishing (Nelson, 2008, p. 63). Another well-known incident is the BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, which spilled over a million cubic meters of crude oil. Using solar energy does not imply releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere; the energy production process for it is free from any gas, smoke, or other chemical waste.
Solar energy, unlike other sources of conventional energy, is free from monthly or other charges, except the first installation and maintenance fees. Operational costs are also negligible. Solar energy does not require costly and ongoing raw materials, such as coal or oil, and unlike conventional power production, operational labor is redundant. Professor Richards Hans from the University of South Calgary (2012) notes that the prices of fossil fuels keep increasing and the production price per watt of solar energy has reduced by 60% in the past five years (p. 29). This, together with the fact that solar energy power plants may be independent from the national energy grid, is a significant advantage for people in isolated localities; solar energy is more cost-effective and practical for self-reliant societies, or those who live in rural or isolated areas. It is practical since it is much cheaper to install solar energy systems than putting up power lines; it is cost-effective due to conventional sources of energy depending on a variety of factors, like transportation of petroleum and frequent maintenance.
Those with divergent views on solar energy insist the cost of installing solar energy system is higher compared to conventional sources of energy (Demirbas, 2008. P.38). They also argue that solar panels require excessive amounts of space for installation, and this might hinder its application in limited space, such as urban areas. According to Professor Ayhan Demirbas from the University of North Seattle (2008), the reason why installation costs are relatively higher is due to solar panels being made from materials that have exorbitant costs (p.38). However, as solar energy becomes more and more competitive due to shortages facing other sources of power, prices are expected to come down. Governments seeking to cut down carbon emissions may also subsidize the cost of installation.
Solar energy has the potential of becoming the most significant source of energy in the nearest future. Since there are no chemicals or gases involved in energy production on solar plants, this type of energy can be considered one of the cleanest. Solar energy is also cheap and practical. Solar plants may be constructed off the national energy grid, which is beneficial for small self-reliant societies, and they do not require monthly or other charges. Those disputing the viability of solar energy as an alternative to fossil fuel insist that installing solar panels is expensive and requires plenty of space. However, government subsidies and other measures are likely to reduce said costs, and the problem of free space is also in the process of resolving. On the whole, it is clear that fossil fuel deposits are getting lower and lower each day. Therefore, increasing numbers of people will continue to embrace solar energy as the best alternative to fossil fuels.
Nelson, Vaughn. (2008). Introduction to Renewable Energy. Chicago: Springer.
Bode, Henning. (2005). Sustainable Development and Innovation in the Energy Sector. New York: Amherst International.
Hans, Richard. (2012). Alternative Energy. Chicago. HillCrest Publishers Ltd.
Demirbas, Ayhan. (2008). Solar Energy: A Realistic Fuel Alternative for Tomorrow. Chicago: Springer.
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Writing a Persuasive Essay
Example of a Argumentative essay on Environment about:
energy / sources / fuel / nuclear / power / hydrogen / electricity / biofuel / ethanol / environment / resources
Title: Hydrogen fuel cells and ethanol
Within the course of recent decades, scientists are considering the application of alternative energy sources to save the actual capacity of energy. This is done in a reasonable economic and environmentally friendly manner to face many global challenges related to the rising consumption of global resources. Alternative energy sources are not based on splitting of atoms or burning of fossil fuels.
This approach actually excludes otherwise atmospheric pollution from nuclear waste by-products and burning fossil fuels. Hence, the alternatives that produce less significant impact on the environment include: solar energy, wind power, geothermal and hydroelectric resources. In particular, this argumentative essay concerns hydrogen fuel cells and ethanol (as America’s next alternative fuel) and discusses the advantages and disadvantages of hydrogen fuel cells.
1. Hydrogen fuel cells
The well-developed economies like the US consider hydrogen as a source of great environmental potential since this clean energy fuel significantly reduces economic dependence on imported energy sources. Therefore, the US deems hydrogen as the future alternative to gasoline; however the issue requires a lot of effort. Initially, the main issue on the agenda concerns facilities needed to make, store and move hydrogen. Furthermore, economical fuel cells, appropriate technologies, innovative solutions and eco-oriented educational programs are the key prerequisites of the coming transformational process in the USA.
At present, the US produces more than 9 million metric tonnes of hydrogen, which is enough to power up to eight million households or 30 m. vehicles. However, for the time being, hydrogen is mostly applied for the industrial purposes, including metallurgy, refining, and food-processing. The overwhelming majority of overall amount of hydrogen production covers only three states: Louisiana, California, and Texas.
The primary user of hydrogen as an energy fuel is NASA within the framework of its space program. Specifically, fuel cells (hydrogen batteries) are applied to power electrical systems of the shuttle. Hydrogen fuel cells are used as efficient means to make electricity. However, the construction of such large batteries (which application excludes power lines) is still expensive to build, whereas smaller fuel cells are actively applied to power electric cars.
Alternatively, fuel cells are also actively applied as emergency power sources in hospitals and remote locations. In addition, portable fuel cells are available to power laptops, cell phones, and military devices. About 500 vehicles (automobiles and buses) in the USA are hydrogen-fueled. Electric motors that use using a fuel cells store hydrogen gas and convert the hydrogen into electricity for the motor. Such vehicles are deemed as exclusively eco-friendly since they do not pollute the surrounding environment. The issue high on the forthcoming agenda concerns the construction of re-fuelling stations available to power hydrogen cars (Energy Information Administration, 2008).
Ethanol fuel is widely applied as a biofuel alternative to gasoline used in vehicles. Ethanol is easily manufactured and processed made from ordinary crops, including corn and sugar cane. Further main advantage is that ethanol is a renewable resource and can be used immensely. Most US cars therefore apply gasoline-ethanol blends reducing the levels of hazardous emissions in the atmosphere (Goettemoeller and Goettemoeller, 2007).
Furthermore, bio-ethanol is manufactured mainly to replace fossil fuels in vehicles. Concerns relate to the large amount of arable land required for crops, as well as the energy and pollution balance of the whole cycle of ethanol production. To this end, International Energy Agency states that cellulosic ethanol fuels will have enormous economic and ecological effect in the foreseeable future. At that, cellulosic ethanol actively resists cellulose fibers, and widely applied to generate ethanol in the United States (The Worldwatch Institute, 2007).
However, the widest application of ethanol is fuel additive and motor fuel. Namely, ethanol produced in Brazil is featured by high carbon sequestration capabilities, and therefore climate change is combated. For the time being, there is no 100% pure ethanols approved as a motor vehicle fuel in the US. Ethanol is therefore used as an additive to gasoline to reduce ground-level ozone formation through reducing hydrocarbon emissions and volatile organic compound, carcinogenic benzene and particulate matter emissions.
Overall, for the time being, saving energy and cutting emissions are two primary concerns challenged by the developed economies considering the overall call for the sustainable development in the world. Therefore the US is considering hydrogen and ethanol as effective alternative energy sources in the foreseeable future.
Energy Information Administration, 2008, Hydrogen Energy, (4 pages) 15 Nov, 2008 http://www.eia.doe.gov/kids/energyfacts/sources/IntermediateHydrogen.html
Goettemoeller, J., & Goettemoeller, A (2007), Sustainable Ethanol: Biofuels, Biorefineries, Cellulosic Biomass, Flex-Fuel Vehicles, and Sustainable Farming for Energy Independence, Praire Oak Publishing, Maryville, Missouri,
The Worldwatch Institute (2007), Biofuels for Transport: Global Potential and Implications for Energy and Agriculture, Earthscan Publications Ltd., London, U.K.,