Try to imagine taking a vacation with your family, and never having to stop at a gas station. Imagine how nice it would be to never receive another electricity bill in the mail or flying on a much quieter aircraft. With the technology we have today, all these scenarios are possible with alternative energy.
Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-18th century, the world as we know it has been tied to fossil fuels. Whether it be for the manufacture and transportation of goods, public transit, national defense, or personal usage, our quality of life would be no where near the levels that we see today if it were not for fossil fuels.
However, technological advances made in the 21st century allow us the opportunity to change that. Many options in the past that were deemed unviable, are now refined to a point where consumers can benefit from incorporating them into their daily lives.
One form of alternative energy that has had the most technological breakthroughs is solar energy by way of solar panels.
These technological advances have made solar panels readily available to consumers, and a viable alternative method of powering their home. By simply installing solar panels on your property, you could power your entire home directly from the sunlight. Luke Richardson writes, “20-year electricity savings from solar can be significant, ranging from the low end of $10k to almost $30k”. Aside from the obvious cost savings, you are also reducing your carbon footprint. Luke Richardson also writes, “When you take into consideration that the national system size average in the U.
S. is 6 kW (6,000 watts), a solar panel system comfortably offsets the emissions produced by one fossil fuel automobile in a year. In addition to significant bill savings, a solar system comes with the satisfaction of “taking a car off the road,” so to speak.”. All things considered, that is a huge savings both monetarily and environmentally.
Solar is not the only alternative energy source available to the everyday consumer. Wind technology utilizing turbines has become extremely popular in the mid-west of the United States. While this form of energy production would not be a viable option for everyone due to factors such as space and climate, those who can utilize it can capitalize. Wind turbines take up less space than solar panels and can also produce adequate amounts of energy on cloudy days where solar panels would struggle. The Department of Energy states that “6% of the nation’s electricity supplied by wind energy today”, which is a huge number for a technology considered to be in its infancy. In 2016, Tom Kiernan was quoted as stating that “Wind’s growth is being propelled by cost reductions of two-thirds over the last six years, which now makes wind the lowest-cost source of new generation”. With that figure in mind, that lower price point opens markets across the globe that may not have the funds for solar power generation.
Society’s dependency on fossil fuels is not only costly on both the environment and the pocket book, but also makes us less safe as a country. A report from the Center of Foreign Relations explains, “the control over enormous oil revenues gives exporting countries
the flexibility to adopt policies that oppose U.S. interests and values”. This means a country that exports oil to the U.S. could use that as a bargaining chip to continue whatever hostile action they may be partaking in. The report goes on to say, “oil dependence causes political realignments that constrain the ability of the United States to form partnerships to achieve common objectives”. With regimes changing every few years based on whom controls the oil fields, it’s hard to form partnerships in such a short amount of time.
Opponents of alternative energy will argue that fossil fuels have been perfected with internal combustion engines and coal burning power plants. While that may be true to an extent, why not prepare for the future when those resources no longer exist? I support alternative energy, not only because I believe it is the right thing to do environmentally, but it will lessen the burden when the day comes when there is no more oil or coal in the ground.