Alternative energy is defined as any energy resource that is not currently popular to use within a society, setting, or structure. Examples of alternative energy include hydropower, geothermal, solar, and wind.
Fossil fuels are defined as any resource which comes from the natural process of evolution our planet experiences. As biological matter breaks down and becomes fossilized, it creates the fuels we then harvest, such as crude oil.
In the alternative energy vs fossil fuels debate, there are a few key differences between these two fuels that should be closely examined.
1. Alternative energies are generally “clean.”
When fossil fuels are burned, they release carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This creates the potential of warming the overall environment of the planet. Alternative energies, though they may also burn materials to create energy, are carbon neutral because the gases their burning products can be counteracted by the growth of new energy sources.
2. Fossil fuels are generally cheaper.
Fossil fuels are still emphasized, especially in developing nations, because the infrastructure to distribute and use them is globally comprehensive. This makes them cheaper and easier to access than alternative energy resources.
3. In developed countries, alternative energies are cost competitive.
Although this has not always been so, solar and wind energy has recently become very cost competitive when it comes to energy consumption. In some communities, the costs of fossil fuels and solar/wind are virtually identical. This will make the transition away from fossil fuels to become possible more often because there are fewer short-term cost sacrifices that need to be made.
4. Fossil fuels are a finite resource.
We may have plenty of fossil fuels to use today, but that doesn’t mean that they are an infinite resource. At some point, unless changes are made, we will run out. Now we do have centuries of stockpiled resources that can be used, so it isn’t going to happen soon, but that also means now is the time to act so we can develop the alternative energy infrastructure that our future generations are going to need.
5. Alternative energies are usually renewable.
Solar energy is everywhere and it is free. The same could be said of wind energy. Geothermal energy is plentiful and renewable thanks to how it is obtained. Hydropower is renewable because it uses the movement of water. Even tidal power creates a renewable energy resource that can be used for power. Although not every form of alternative energy has a distribution network that can provide power beyond a small community, it is growing and thriving as an industry.
6. Investors are flocking to alternative energy.
The solar industry has doubled in size 7 times since 2000. The wind energy industry has doubled 4 times in size during the same period. Coal, on the other hand, is in a price freefall that does not seem to be ending.
Alternative energy vs fossil fuels – it’s a debate that has passions which run deep on both sides. For a clean planet, alternative energy is the way to go. To develop that structure, however, fossil fuels are going to be the energy resource which sets the stage.
Crystal Lombardo is a contributing editor for Vision Launch. Crystal is a seasoned writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience. She has been an editor of three popular blogs that each have had over 500,000 monthly readers.