The Cost of “Green Energy”

In the ongoing debate between renewable energy sources and fossil fuel, many issues are at stake. Powering our economies, while keeping energy prices down is a multi-faceted task. For most, the use of fossil fuel is a mindless habit. It is always there, always works and is very effective in running the world. Oil, natural gas and coal are versatile, requiring little thought for the average consumer. Delving into the realm of renewable energy can be expensive and difficult. Deciding if the benefits of green technology outweigh the effectiveness of fossil fuels, is a worldwide daily struggle.

The most plentiful fossil fuel is coal. As well as being abundant, it is used as a liquid, gas or solid and is less expensive to produce than natural gas or oil. From an environmental standpoint, coal is one of the worst ways to supply our energy needs. Fumes and sludge from coal-fired power plants and mining used to pull it from the ground; all have a negative impact on the environment. The use of oil for heating and fueling vehicles make it an easily recognizable source of energy. While conveniently transported in tankers or via pipelines, the supply of oil is diminishing in conjunction with the world’s increasing energy requirements. Cleaner burning natural gas is used for many needs including heat, electricity and transportation, and while widely available, it does contribute to air pollution and is not a renewable form of energy.Many options exist in the form of renewable energy, but for the most part without a government subsidy these options are completely unsustainable. Solar power is limited to sunny days and is not cost effective. Grease & used cooking oil from restaurants can be processed into biofuel. Production is expensive and can take up large amounts of heat and quantities of water. The process of turning grease trap waste or used cooking oil into biofuel requires so much real energy that it is unsustainable without government subsidies. Wind energy, while available in most places, can come and go with the weather, and the amount of space required for wind plants and costs of installation are deterrents to this option.

Costs and efficiency all need to be considered when comparing fossil fuel and renewable energy.