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3 of the Best Ethical Alternatives to Fossil Fuels

image credit: Solar Investment Tax Credit

sipur joseph's picture
Senior Marketing Research Analyst Counterpoint Technology

I have seven years of work experience with key focus on the evolving mobile device and technology ecosystem. i understands specific technology industry nuances helping clients to navigate through...

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In recent years, ethical issues regarding our energy use and systems have increasingly been at the forefront of the global conscious. Growing awareness of climate change has led us to question how we’re producing and using energy, and how sustainable these practices are.

These ethical considerations are more important now than ever. The IPCC has predicted that global temperatures will rise by up to 10 degrees over the next century, and this is largely due to emissions from energy production. In fact, 90% of all carbon emissions caused by human activity come from fossil fuels. Unfortunately, this shows no signs of reducing, with the International Energy Agency predicting that Chinese emissions will double by 2035. 

To keep global temperature increases within manageable levels, we need to leave 80% of our current fossil fuel reserves underground. As such, the need for ethical alternatives to fossil fuels is greater now than ever. Here are 3 of the most promising alternative fuel sources that could help us to turn things around. 

1. Solar Power

Solar power technology has come a long way over the last few decades. Solar panels are now so advanced, they can be used for energy production on an unprecedented scale. Many homes are able to generate all of their required power from solar panels alone.

The only thing holding solar power back from widespread adoption is the upfront costs. The cost of solar power installation is off-putting for many homeowners, which is a shame as they can actually save money on energy bills in the long run.

To combat this, governments around the world have introduced initiatives to encourage more people to adopt solar power. In the US, the ‘Solar Investment Tax Credit’ is one such example.

2.  Wave Energy

Wave energy utilizes the kinetic energy of the sea to generate electricity. Wave energy converters are placed far out in the oceans to harness the power of the waves and use it to produce energy.

The advantage of this is that there is little to no waste produced. It’s very reliable and has a lot of potential. The only potential barrier is that, as of yet, scientists still don’t know exactly how these converters can affect local ecosystems. 

Tidal energy is similar to wave energy and holds equally impressive potential. A recent report predicted that tidal energy alone could provide up to 20% of the electricity demands of the whole of the UK. 

3. Wind Energy

Wind energy is one of the planet’s most promising renewable energy sources. The wind is a limitless source of kinetic energy. Wind turbines can harness that energy by using it to turn spinning blades and generate electricity.

There are thousands of these wind turbines already in place around the globe generating a huge chunk of the global energy supply. According to the EWEA, wind power accounted for 44.2% of the total power capacity installations in 2015 - more than any other form of power generation..

The only ethical issue regarding wind energy centres around the way they look. Many people have raised concerns that wind turbines are an ugly blight on the countryside. However, this seems to be a relatively small compromise for a clean, renewable, limitless energy source.

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Aug 1, 2019

This makes me want to put on my "Philosophy 101" hat and ask what exactly does it mean to be the most ethical. I see nothing unethical about tidal energy, for example, but that doesn't mean I think it's going to be a widescale solution to getting off fossil fuels since it's rather niche and low in applicability. Does that make it less ethical to pour resources into? Is it more ethical to support an energy source that can do more to solve the climate crisis? I'm not suggesting an answer one way or another, just thinking out loud!

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