Term Paper: Renewable Energy Development

Pages: 4 (1406 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Energy  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] Biomass, which uses forest and agricultural residues, is used around the world, and the use geothermal energy is growing slowly. All of these forms of energy need to be fully explored to gain more usage and recognition.

Another viable renewable energy source is the fuel cell, which has been around since 1829, longer than the internal combustion engine (Flavin & Dunn, 1999, p. 167). Fuel cells combine hydrogen and oxygen to provide water vapor and electricity. They can be extremely efficient, and have been used in the space program since the 1960s. However, they still have not come into commercial use, mainly because of the difficulty of using the hydrogen, which is highly volatile and expensive. However, "Researchers are now testing various catalysts that, when put in water and illuminated by sunlight, may someday produce inexpensive hydrogen" (Flavin & Dunn, 1999, p. 167). Many people believe that fuel cells will be a dominant form of energy as the 21st century continues.

Historically, it has always taken a while for new energy innovations to catch on with industry and the public. For example, when oil first hit the market, it was used to replace whale oil in lamps, so it occupied a tiny fraction of the market it enjoys today (Flavin & Dunn, 1999, p. 167). This same small entry into the market can be expected with many renewable fuels. The niche they may find today could very well occupy a major portion of the fuel market tomorrow. Renewable fuels received considerable attention during the Carter administration in the late 1970s, and less attention from the following administrations. Another researcher writes, "During the Carter administration DOE [Department of Energy] supported and encouraged research on solar and other renewable energy sources and demonstrated concern for long-range energy policy" (Shakespeare, 1994, p. 126). When President Reagan took office, he viewed the DOE with skepticism, and attempted to dismantle it entirely. It held on, but essentially all research and development was discontinued, including that looking into renewable energy sources. In effect, renewable energy has suffered many historical setbacks, and the changes that have come in the last decades may have grown much more if research and development had continued at the government level. The biggest change in public opinion comes from the growing knowledge that the Earth's climate is changing as a result of global warming, and global warming is a direct result of fossil-fuel emissions from cars, buildings, coal and oil burning plants, and homes heated with fossil fuels. However, much of the public does not like many forms of renewable energy, because they take up valuable open space (such as wind farms and solar collectors), they reduce the picturesque value of certain areas, and they can even smell bad, as is the case for some geothermal production facilities (Pasqualetti, 2000, p. 381). Thus, for renewable energy to catch on even more, the public must be fully educated about the benefits, weighing the benefits and the costs, and deciding what benefits are ultimately more important to the world and the ecological balance.

In conclusion, most renewable energy sources have been developed and implemented more often in the last four decades than ever before. However, to replace or at least reduce the dependence on non-renewable resources, renewable energy needs to grow in popularity, effectiveness, and overall acceptance. Non-renewable fuels are causing changes in the world's climate, and world is warming as a result of the depletion of the ozone layer due to the reside from burning fossil fuels (carbon monoxide, for the most part). Renewable energy is not only practical; it may soon be a real necessity to protect the Earth from further harm due to global warming and climate change.


Borowitz, S. (1999). Farewell fossil fuels: reviewing America's energy policy. New York: Plenum.

Flavin, C., & Dunn, S. (1999). A new energy paradigm for the 21st century. Journal of international affairs, 53(1), 167.

Fleagle, R.G. (1994). Global environmental change: Interactions of science, policy, and politics in the United States. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

Pasqualetti, M.J. (2000). Morality, space and the power of wind-energy landscapes. The geographical review, 90(3), 381.

Rogers, W.M. (2000). Third millennium capitalism: Convergence… [END OF PREVIEW]

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