With mounting evidence to support climate change, the pressure exists for developing alternative sources of clean energy. To continue the course of rising greenhouse gas emissions is not an effective option. However, in the race for deployment of alternative energy, the field contains viable players, each with their own limitation.
Solar power offers a form of energy that does not contribute to greenhouse gas emissions—once it is in place. The process of producing solar panels does indeed cause pollution, which any form of manufacturing may encounter. It has another glaring issue.
Solar energy is only a solution in certain geographical locations. The angle of the sun in the Midwest or New England, especially during winter months, will not provide the necessary yield to justify it in these areas.
Like solar power, wind energy taps a renewable source of fuel that produces no emissions. It carries the same manufacturing costs as solar, with some additional problems.
Wind energy is best implemented in open areas where wind speeds can reach the threshold for producing fuel efficiently. Habitat and terrain are limiting factors. Unlike solar power, wind energy may also pose health risks for wildlife and humans that require further investigation.
The western states depend upon the hydro power generated by dams. While offering another clean energy source, its implementation carries a high environmental cost. The land and its resources must endure the impact of construction and modifications in surface water. It also has its own limitations in terms of habitat and terrain.
Biofuels have emerged as another possible solution to the country’s energy needs. The source is renewable. Like wind power, landowners stand to benefit from leasing lands for development of this form of energy. However, while it does not have the same limits as other forms, biofuels fall short of a complete solution because it produces emissions.
The combustion of biofuels can release the same chemicals that it attempts to mitigate. Plant products contain carbon and nitrogen that will be emitted when it is used.
The pros and cons of each energy source point to a multi-faceted solution to lessening the effects of climate change. The first consideration is implementing the right solution in the best place. It must also take a lesson from organic agriculture that seeks to minimize environmental impacts. The best solution may have many answers.