Today, the development of new technologies and finding alternative fuels are crucial for the effective economic development of countries and the entire world. The contemporary world is consuming fossil fuels as the major source of energy but fossil fuels are scarce resources and the planet is running out of these resources fast. In such a situation, alternative fuels become of the utmost importance for the survival of the mankind and the modern civilization. However, views on alternative fuels vary consistently. On the one hand, the use of nuclear energy is viewed as an alternative to fossil fuels, which can supply a considerable part of energy consumed worldwide, but, on the other hand, renewable sources of energy are viewed as safer and more reliable sources of energy than nuclear energy.
In fact, the nuclear energy is very prospective, taking into consideration its potential and relatively small impact on the environment, compared to fossil fuels (Best, 663). At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that fossil fuels lead to the greenhouse gas emissions, which, in their turn, provoke the climate change and global warming. In this regard, the nuclear energy is apparently safer compared to fossil fuels because the level of greenhouse gas emissions is much lower, while technology of generating and using nuclear energy has already been developed and implemented successfully in many countries. In such a way, proponents of the development of nuclear energy as alternative fuel stress the consistent drop in greenhouse gas emissions, if nuclear energy replaces fossil fuels.
At the same time, nuclear energy has the high potential and productivity (Argonne National Laboratory, 422). What is meant here is the fact that nuclear energy is highly efficient in terms of generation of energy. In this regard, it is worth mentioning the fact that the input of nuclear fuel and output of power is more efficient compared to fossil fuels, although nuclear fuel is more expensive to produce but its outputs outweigh costs of production. As a result, nuclear energy can provide the steady supply of power for many countries, whereas some countries have already made nuclear energy the main part of their energy markets. In fact, nuclear energy has the high potential because technologies keep progressing and the generation of nuclear energy can become more and more efficient.
However, the recent disaster in Japan as well as such notorious catastrophe as the one in Chernobyl reveals the full extent to which the application of nuclear energy may be dangerous. Even though nuclear energy is well-developed at the moment and can supply the larger part of power for the entire world, if the world turns to nuclear energy as the major alternative to fossil fuels, but its benefits can hardly outweigh risks associated with nuclear energy.
In such a context, renewable sources, such as sun or wind, can be more efficient alternative fuels compared to nuclear energy (Argonne National Laboratory, 459). In fact, renewable sources of energy are such sources as sun or wind, which power can be used for the generation of electricity, for instance. At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that the modern technologies provide possibilities for the wide use of renewable sources of energy as alternative to fossil fuels.
In fact, one of the major advantages of renewable sources of energy is the fact that they are environmentally safe (Best, 664). To put it more precisely, sun, or wind, or other renewable source of energy do not produce any dangerous greenhouse gas emissions and, as a rule, does not have any negative impact on the environment. The development of renewable sources of energy does not need substantial changes being implemented in the natural environment. Instead, technologies used for generation of power using renewable sources of energy allow generating power with minimal impact on the environment and minimal changes of landscape and biodiversity. As a result, unlike nuclear energy and fossil fuels, renewable sources of energy are environmentally safe and cannot provoke any catastrophe or disaster, especially at such a scale as nuclear energy production can.
Furthermore, another important advantage of such alternative sources of energy as sun or wind is the fact that they are renewable (Argonne National Laboratory 472). This means that renewable sources of energy will not run out as fossil fuels are currently doing. Instead, the mankind can use renewable sources of energy on the regular ground without the risk of exhaustion of the resources of energy. At any rate, it is obvious that the use of solar power may last as long as sunlight is available to the Earth, or the wind power will be available as long as the wind blows. Therefore, there is no risk of shortage of power generated by alternative sources of energy. The only problem that may arise, in such a context, is the low capacity of power stations using renewable sources of energy. For instance, today, renewable sources of energy cannot replace immediately fossil fuels because they comprise just a few percent of the total power production in the world, whereas fossil fuels provide the lion share of the power production in the world. However, as the number of power stations using renewable sources of energy grows, so does their capacity and renewable sources of energy can meet the needs of the world in electric power.
Finally, renewable sources of energy are cheap compared to nuclear energy or fossil fuels (Best, 665). At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that the development and construction of power stations using renewable sources of energy may be costly. However, these investments will be highly profitable because power stations using alternative sources of energy, such as sun or wind, do not need the fuel to buy and to supply. Instead, they are just using the natural sources of energy, which are renewable and virtually always available for the generation of power. In this regard, power stations using renewable sources of energy need just the maintenance costs to cover technical needs of power stations to run smoothly. In other words, power stations using renewable sources of energy just need to maintain their equipment and infrastructure and they can save costs on fuel.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that renewable sources of energy are the best alternative fuel. In this regard, nuclear energy is effective but it is costly and dangerous. In addition, nuclear energy has a negative impact on the environment. In contrast, renewable sources of energy, such as sun or wind, are environmentally safe, they are renewable and cheap. Therefore, they are the best alternative fuel.
Argonne National Laboratory et al. Total Energy Cycle Assessment of Electric and Conventional Vehicles: An Energy and Environmental Analysis, Vol. II: Appendices to Technical Report. Washington, D.C.: Argonne National Laboratory, Jan. 1998.
Best, Robert W. B.”Advanced Fusion Fuel Cycles”. Fusion Technology, Vol. 17, July 1990, pp. 661-5.