Posted On: Nov. 18, 2017
Describe at least two alternatives to oil that are currently available and discuss the barriers that keep these alternatives from replacing oil as our primary means of energy? The first alternative that comes to mind is ethanol which is a fuel additive that comes in various blends. I actually used to run an ethanol plant for Archer Daniels Midland before joining the Air Force so this product is kind of partial to me. However, there are a lot of things holding ethanol back. The first being the cost to produce it, the only reason that the ethanol blends are the same price as a regular gallon of gasoline is because of the tax credits ethanol producers receive. Even worse is that ethanol is alcohol so it absorbs water wherever it can, even in pipes, which means that it cannot be piped across the country like gasoline. It has to be transported via trucks instead, which doesn’t speak well for its environmental footprint. Another fact is a gallon of ethanol contains less energy than a gallon of gasoline. For example, E85 has about 27% less energy per gallon than gasoline (mileage penalty lessens as ethanol content decreases) (AFDC, 2013). Which one would you want to buy when paying the same amount at the pump? Another alternative is Hydrogen which is currently being used in various locations for public transportation. It’s an environmentally friendly fuel that has the potential to dramatically reduce our dependence on imported oil, but several significant challenges must be overcome before it can be widely used (U.S. Department of Energy, 2013). Some of the larger barriers are: Expense of production, Cost of vehicles and the onboard hydrogen storage systems do not yet meet size, weight, and cost goals for commercialization (U.S. Department of Energy, 2013). Additionally, utilizing at least two scholarly or reputable resources and your textbook, discuss the role that government plays in ensuring a transition to such alternatives in a post peak-oil world? A basic definition of a peak in oil production would be that point where more than half of all of the oil that will ever be extracted from the Earth has already been produced (Turk & Bensel, 2011). I think the government must play a role by making it law to change over to alternative renewable fuels. Otherwise we’d never make the change because the big oil companies would pressure the auto industry into only making vehicles that run on gasoline. When the government makes the switch into law, the auto industry and big don’t have a choice. Just my two cents. The alternative fuels have been described very well by the writer. However the cost is prohibitive and that is why it is subsidized by the government by way of taxes. Another problem with this fuel is that of transportation. Since it absorbs water, it cannot be transported over long distances and thus is ineffective in use. It will take some more time to find out the right technology to make it more attractive for the users. Role of government is very vital in encouraging use of alternate fuel. This could be by way of providing subsidies in the form tax concession or help in developing technology also. Unless government puts pressure, it would be difficult for people to make a change.