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8 Eray Özkan
Bahcesehir University
C-2 Science B

Research Paper Topic: Should usage of alternative/renewable energy sources be increased all
over the world instead of anti-environmental fossil fuels and can they supply the world’s
energy needs?


Energy is the most important necessity of human life and people use it in every field
of their life for heating, lighting, cooking etc… Energy is produced from different sources in
different forms on the Earth like fossil sources, coal, fuel-oil, gas etc…But, while energy is
produced, they can harm their natural environment or they can cause some serious problems
for people. When an energy source starts to threaten people, they should quit using it and
alternative sources should be produced. So, there are natural, alternative sources such as solar,
wind, biomass, biofuel, geothermal which are called renewable energy. Usage of
alternative/renewable and absolutely natural energy sources should be increased instead of
conventional sources and they can supply the world’s energy needs; it’s also necessary for the
future of our planet because there’s no doubt that renewable energy sources are less harmful
than fossil fuels which are still used, but should not be. People shouldn’t forget that there’s a
useful alternative instead of conventional sources. I’ll handle this subject in terms of
environmental and economical aspects to express why we should use alternative sources.

First of all, I should start with describing and comparing renewable energies and
conventional energies. Renewable energy generally can be described as ‘any sustainable
energy source that comes from natural environment’(1) or it can be definited as using
effectively natural resources such as sunlight, wind power, hydroelectricity, biomass and
geothermal heat which are naturally replenished. Conventional energy sources are fossil fuels,
that are, hydrocarbons found within the top layer of the Earth’s crust (6). Coal, oil and natural
gas are most common fossil fuels and most widely used energy sources for heating and
generating electricity in the world (8).

When we compare processes of producing energy between renewable energy and fossil fuels,
producing oil, coal, fuel is a difficult and demanding process and it needs lots of complex
equipment, lots of physical and chemical processes. On the other hand, alternative energy can
be produced with basic equipment and naturally basic processes. For example, basic panels
are used to generate electricity from solar energy or wind turbines are used to produce energy
from wind which is an important potential natural source. Another disadvantage of fossil fuels
is usage. Fossil fuels can be used once and after one time usage, they become waste. For
example, coal is burnt one time or fuel oil is consumed once. That’s why fossil fuels are
classed as a non-renewable source. And, lots of problems occur because they are always
consumed. Fossil fuel reserves are continuously consumed and according to scientists, coal
and oil reserves will be exhausted in 100 years. But, alternative energy sources are completely
reusable because energy is produced from renewable, natural sources like Sun , wind or water.
So, we should take advantage of natural powers instead of non-renewable ones.

The most important and controversial point of renewable energy and fossil fuels is the
environmental aspect. While non-renewable conventional energies are produced and
consumed, they harm to environment and they cause serious problems for our planet. For
instance, ‘global warming’ is the most important and serious threat for our planet and
conventional energy sources have important, undeniable influence to global warming. In fact,
consumption of fossil fuels is the main cause. Global warming is the gradual increase in the
average temperature of Earth’s atmosphere caused by increasing levels of gases like carbon
dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere , these gases (CO2,methane) in the atmosphere allow the
Sun’s infrared radiation to enter the atmosphere then it causes a higher global temperature(2).
Fossil fuels like coal contain carbon, when they burn, CO2 is released into the atmosphere.
This causes an increase in the level of CO2 which leads to increase in average temperature
and it brings other problems like climate change and air pollution (1). But, alternative energy
sources don’t cause CO2 emissions or climate change and most renewable energy sources
don’t harm the natural environment; they may be harmful just when they are used
improperly(2). For example, in solar panels , if photovoltaic cells are charged at night without
sunlight , it may lead to a chemical reaction but, there’s no doubt that the harm is less than
fossil fuels. According to a ‘Science Daily’ article ‘’Go Solar, Wind or Geothermal If You
Want Renewable Energy with Life-Cycle Efficiency’’, a significant advantage of renewable
energy systems is that they’re environmentally friendly because overall they result in lower
dangerous pollutant emissions (5). Michael Jefferson also confirms:
‘’ Fossil fuels use has continued to rise ,renewable energy use has made insufficient
inroads; waste and inefficiency in energy usage continues to be far too high ;
too many people remain without modern energy services or are exposed
to severe pollution in the home and local atmosphere; there are mounting
concerns about the conventional oil resource base; greenhouse gas emissions
continue to rise ; climate change continues to mount .’’ (3)

All the research shows that the major factor of global warming is fossil fuels. Environmental
effects are the main reason why I advocate that the usage of fossil fuels should be left and

alternative sources should be preferred. Pollution which is caused by petrol, oil or coal also
shouldn’t be forgotten. It causes great waste because they’re non-renewable sources and they
become waste after consumption.

Another controversial point is the world’s energy needs. Can renewable/alternative energy
sources supply the world’s energy needs? It’s necessary to give facts in order to learn the
answer. According to the Energy Information Administration , the average energy usage of the
Earth (global consumption) is 15 TW* in a year. When we come to production of renewable
energy, from solar power, 86,000 TW can be produced which is an important amount of
energy. 870 TW can be produced from wind power and 32 TW can be produced from
geothermal (2). Numbers explain that alternative energy sources can supply our energy needs.
But , why do we still use fossil fuels ? The answer is associated with the economical aspects
of this issue. Usage of alternative energy increases slowly , but for the future, it must be
increased , because, environmental problems increase rapidly if we continue to burn fossil
fuels. Although energy prices and capital costs of renewable technologies are high, they are
developing and in the long term the usage and the investment to alternative energy are
increasing every year and it has important potential for the future because it’s a clean
alternative to fossil fuels.

The economical aspect is important for the usage of energy sources. For example, fossil
fuels are still used, just because of their cost and environmental harm is ignored. If it’s
necessary to give facts , according to the World Energy Assessment , average unit power
generation costs are ; coal is 4 US cent / kWH , gas is 7 US cent/ kWH, oil is 8 US cent/kWH
; but solar 32 US cent / kWH and wind is 6 US cent / kWH. (7). It shows that fossil fuels are
cheaper than renewables but fossil fuel reserves will be exhausted and we need alternatives.
Costs of renewable technologies are high, but they are developing and costs start to go down.
The usage and investment to alternative energy are increasing day by day.

All in all , energy is a vital part of human life ; production and consumption of energy is
a very controversial point and it has lots of aspects ; main points are the environmental and
economical issues. Alternative energy is natural and sustainable. There’s no doubt that it has
important advantages when we compare it with conventional energy sources. Conventional
source reserves start to be exhausted and alternative energy can be a future solution and we
shouldn’t forget that there is an alternative.

• (watt : unit of power; measure of energy TW : terawatt : it’s equal to one trillion watts.)

2001 energy costs Potential future energy cost


Wind 4–8 ¢/kWh 3–10 ¢/kWh

Solar photovoltaic 25–160 ¢/kWh 5–25 ¢/kWh

Solar thermal 12–34 ¢/kWh 4–20 ¢/kWh

Large hydropower 2–10 ¢/kWh 2–10 ¢/kWh

Small hydropower 2–12 ¢/kWh 2–10 ¢/kWh

Geothermal 2–10 ¢/kWh 1–8 ¢/kWh

Biomass 3–12 ¢/kWh 4–10 ¢/kWh

Coal (comparison) 4 ¢/kWh


Geothermal heat 0.5–5 ¢/kWh 0.5–5 ¢/kWh

Biomass — heat 1–6 ¢/kWh 1–5 ¢/kWh

Low temp solar heat 2–25 ¢/kWh 2–10 ¢/kWh

All costs are in 2001 US$-cent per kilowatt-hour.

Source 7 : World Energy Assessment, 2004 update[39]

SOURCE 8 :Energy Administration. ‘’ Pie chart of Energy Consumption


1) Berger, John.(1997). ‘’ Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Must Be Lumped

Together.’’ The Business of Renewable Energy :p.243

The author John Berger mainly mention about energy efficiency and alternative energy
sources. He definites renewable energy sources as sustainable source that comes natural from
natural environment and he also expresses harms of fossil fuels and advantages of renewable
energy which are oil dependency, global warming and air pollution.The main thesis is that
renewable energy use is the answer for our energy future in developing world both
environmentally and economically.

2) Chan, Angello , Flannery, Mark , Westlake, Edward .(14 March

2007).’’Alternative/Renewable Energy : There Is An Alternative. Global Energy Research,
Credit Suisse Alternative 30.

In this Global Energy Research report , alternative/renewable energy which is a hot

topic is handled in every aspects. Authors examine renewable electricity generation, biofuels
and other alternative energy products and systems, the impact on conventional sources, the
various approaches to carbon emission mitigation. They conclude that renewable energies can
be alternative solution against global warming, climate changes and energy efficiency.

3) Jefferson, Michael.(April, 2006). ‘Sustainable Energy Development ‘.Renewable
Energy , Volume 31 , Issue 5 : p.571,582.

In the article, the author mainly mention about environmental impacts of using
conventional fossil fuels, fossil fuels, inefficiency in energy use , harms of conventional oil
resource, green house gas emissions which cause pollution and climate change. The article
also points out how fossil fuels can quit and how we can provide sustainable development
with renewable energy sources without harm environment. The author also expresses the
contribution of renewable energies and how they can supply energy needs.

4) Turner, John.(30 July , 1999 ). ‘’A Realizable Renewable Energy Future’’ Science 285:
p. 687-689.

In the article , the author mentions about renewable resources and energy storage from
alternative technologies, he presents renewable systems and the issues of energy
payback,CO2 abatement. He concludes that we have alternative sources to reduce CO2
emissions and global warming because of that the usage of alternative energies such as solar,
wind , hydropower, biomass etc… must be increased.

5) Inderscience Publishers.(2007,August 18).’’ Go Solar, Wind or Geothermal If You Want

Renewable Energy with Life-cycle Efficiency’’. Science Daily. Retrieved May 20,2008.
* http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070813153419.html *

In this article, the author compares fossil fuels and renewable sources and he mentions
about researches of renewable energy, recycling and non-renewable fossils. He generally
advocates that fossil fuels are the important reason of carbon dioxide emissions and climate
change and he concludes that renewable sources are environmentally friendly.

6) * http://www.en_wikipedia.org/renewable_energy *

In wikipedia, renewable energy and conventional energy are generally described, what it
is and what renewable energies are. It’s also generally mentioned why alternative should use,
problems that fossil fuels cause such as climate change and global warming.

7) World Energy Assessment.(2004). “ Costs of Energy Sources.” (p. 4)

8) Energy Information Administration . “ Pie chart of Energy Consumption “ . ( p.5)