The Big Question: Can the world really ditch fossil fuels?

Most of the fossil fuels like coal, petroleum and natural gas are formed over millions of years, so we have only limited resources available around the world when it comes to fossil fuels. Humans have been consuming these non-renewable sources of energy at a fast rate. Thus, many of these resources are close to losing all their stock during our lifetimes. In such a situation, there is a need to utilize renewable alternative sources of energy that can replace fossil fuels.

The Query

Now, the big question is whether we can really replace these fossil fuels by alternative sources, especially when various credible studies indicate that there is just 50-year oil supply left with the world to be utilized. Though we have the technology existing to tap wind, solar, geothermal and similar other renewable energy sources, it needs to be known if these energy production processes are feasible enough. Even if these can be harnessed to meet the energy needs, how much of the world’s energy requirements can be met and whether it would be sufficient to eliminate the need for fossil fuels.

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A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had examined various energy scenarios and informed that with the right policies, the renewable sources can meet more than 40 percent of energy needs by 2030 and over 75 percent by 2050. There are signs of improving energy efficiency over the years, but a lot still needs to be done. There are various other studies done in different countries that have studied a variety of factors to provide their own estimates on how and by when the fossil fuels could be replaced by alternative energies. Many of these are quite hopeful of achieving nearly full conversion, but also underline some challenges that could delay the process.



According to a co-authored study by the Stanford researcher, Mark Z. Jacobson, the world can ditch non-renewable energy sources completely if there is societal and political will, as there are no economic or technological barriers per their assessments. Wind and solar energies are capable of meeting 90 percent of the global energy requirements, with the rest to be take care by geothermal, hydroelectric, tidal and wave power. But, wind and solar energy can be highly variable that has created doubts regarding their reliability to generate base load energy. Also, the use of alternative energies requires to be incentivized. Governments across the world need to work on setting renewable energy standards, feed-in tariffs, costs on carbon, etc. All this would also need the support from the corporate sector, as well as public that should go about greener practices.

Thus, what is the needed is the will of common people, as well as global governmental and corporate efforts to set up the base for going into a greener direction. The rest of the issues can be sorted out by the available technologies and expertise of energy professionals. The goal of ditching the fossil fuels completely will come closer if united efforts are made.

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