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GCEE 6310 Global Climate Energy Environment and Economy

Published : 24-Sep,2021  |  Views : 10

Question:

In "Nine Challenges of Alternative Energy" , David Fridley argues that the growing cost of and demand for energy, along with the growing concerns of the global climate, leaves us facing, not just a need to explore alternative energy options, but also a myriad of ethical concerns. What are Fridleycore reasons for concern, and what solutions does he offer his readers? Do you find his solutions singly or collectively persuasive? If so, please explain exactly why. If not, please explain exactly why not.

Answer:

Growing energy requirements of developing as well as developed nations has increased their interests in utilizing alternative energy sources. Fridley argues that issues such as scalability, viability, sustainability, feasibility of different alternative approaches of energy are interrelated and complex issues due to focusing on initial substituting cost of renewable system of energy with carbon-based complex and interrelated issues. Factors that comes into play are timing and scalability, commercialization, sustainability, requirements of material input, intermittency, energy density, water, the law of receding horizons and energy return on investment are identified as nine challenges of alternative energy.         

The argument of David Fridley for growing cost as well as demand in energy besides growing global climatic concerns creates need for exploration of option of alternative energy along with numerous ethical concerns. The first reason for concern includes timing and sustainability. Although numerous strategies have been devised for backing up depleted energy resources like those that oil produced from tar-sands replacing conventional crude oil depletion, the tar-sands oil will not cover half of the depleted conventional oil fields. Another issue is commercialization in which laboratories discovers alternative sources of energy to conventional energy sources. However, the commercialization of the alternative sources discovered requires 20-25 years (Fridley, 2010).  

The wind and solar power that is required for electrified transportations needs extensive transmission investments as well as substitutability issues. For example, although Ethanol can be blended with gasoline however; the tendency to water absorption and higher oxygen content up to 59% makes it unsuitable for transportation through existing pipeline networks. Fridley (2010) stated that the alternative resources provides same service as the conventional services but to incorporate those effectively, adequate material costs requires to be considered. Requirements of material input also need to be considered as it affects feasibility, cost and scalability of alternatives. The thin film solar that currently uses indium is also used for flat screens monitors. However, it is seen that indium resources are limited which would be depleted within 13 years (Fridley, 2010). China being the world dominant of 95% of the rare-elements such as neodymium that is used for manufacturing permanent magnets for hybrid-vehicles motors as well as windmill turbines. Most of the renewable energy sources exist with the base of fossil fuels, which is itself a non-renewable energy source.

Intermittency is another issue that involves using alternative sources such as solar and wind energies. Development of approaches and technologies that stores generated energy during good sunny and windy conditions are the major constraints. Other major constraint involves loss of energy release and limited density of energy that needs to be achieved for storage technologies. Energy densities being the 6th constraints shows that lower density materials are required in huge quantity to provide equivalent energy to that of a denser material and fuel. Lower density of energy presents a challenge significantly towards electrification of the car thus causing challenge of supply for adequate materials. In order to process unconventional fossil fuel and biomass, around 2.5 gallons of water is required per gallon of the gasoline produced hence depleting water resources (Fridley, 2010).

The corn ethanol industry has increased the cost due to price hike of oil. Increased oil prices caused increased ethanol energy processing cost as well as higher fuel prices makes corn cultivation expensive. The major final challenge for transitions to alternative energy sources is the sustainability however; high requirements of energy input for bio fuels are produced through energy surplus and little energy. Similar production of tar sands helps in production of less than 3 units of energy per unit consumed. The higher EROI is insufficient for ensuring the modern society’s structure as well as economies that needs to be maintained. Due to huge investments in energy and resources, it is essential to look beyond financial payback especially in domain of rise of energy pricing, declining resources of fossil fuel and increased danger of climatic catastrophe.

The solutions provided by David Fridley are collectively persuasive as truly alternative energy sources are results of dependencies on non-renewable energy resources. No matter how much renewable resource of energy has been developed, it cannot completely cover the amount of non-renewable resources that has been depleted. Therefore, the only solution is to stop using the non-renewable energy sources. Moreover, the laboratory experiments depicting the different renewable energy efficient methods are also stated to become commercially viable in around 20-25 years and hence are not economically feasible (Fridley, 2010). The water, which is used for production of oils, is also depleted and hence it is seen that for producing renewable resources of energy, non-renewable resources are being depleted. Thus, it can be concluded that David Fridley is collectively persuasive in his solutions.

References

Fridley, D. (2010). Nine challenges of alternative energy. The post carbon reader: managing the, 21, 386-397

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