Alternate energy sources in times of scarcity

solarenergy india

Recent ups and downs of petrol and diesel prices have made a large impact on people who depend upon them in their daily lives in most parts of the country and the world. The over- dependence on fossil fuels is not only depleting resources but also driving towards a major crisis, especially in transportation of both commodities and people. Hence, there is a need to think of other alternatives to avert possible crisis.

Alternative options

According to Larry West, interest in alternate fuels has been spurred by three important considerations:

Alternate fuels generally have lower vehicle emissions that contribute to smog, air pollution and global warming

Most alternate fuels don’t come from finite fossil -fuel resources and are sustainable.

Alternate fuels can help nations become more energy independent.

The U. S. Energy Policy Act of 1992, has identified eight alternate fuels of note to achieve these goals. (Top Eight Alternative Fuels, ) . They are: Ethanol, Natural Gas, Electricity, Hydrogen (which can be mixed with natural gas) , LPG- Liquefied Petroleum Gas or Propane, Biodiesel, Methanol and P- Series Fuels – a blend of Ethanol, Natural Gas liquids and methyltetrahydrofuran (MeTHF). These have positive as well as negative effects but can be substituted for Gasoline and diesel to reduce pollution.

With redesigning of engines and better network, diesel and petrol can be replaced by a compound called Dimethyl ether (DME) but it too has carbon. It can be blended with conventional fuel to improve its combustion properties. (A green alternative to petroleum -based fuel, by Ankur Bordolol, Srikant Nanoti and team – CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum, Dehradun, IIT, Roorkee and Bharat Petroleum, updated September 20, 2015, ). DME is not naturally occurring but needs to be prepared from natural gas. It can be used as a partial substitute to conventional fuels in petrol and diesel engines. Along with superior combustion properties, it has advantages such as high cetane number and absence of carbon- carbon bond and potential to reduce pollutants.

Eco- friendly measures

Reducing use of fossil fuels, increasing use of public transport vehicles, restricting use of private vehicles, developing alternate energy using wind, tidal or solar power will enhance clean environment. Global carbon emissions are set to hit an all time high in 2018 – according to researchers at the University of East Anglia and the Global Carbon Project. A projected rise of 2 percent or more is driven by a solid growth in coal use for the second year in a row, and sustained growth in oil and gas use. (Global carbon dioxide emissions rise even as coal wanes and renewables boom, December 5, 2018, ). The research anticipate rise in emissions in 2019 unless steps are taken to prune consumption of energy from conventional fuels.

Even after two weeks of negotiations on climate change, countries could not agree fully for measures to curb global warming. (COP24 climate talks end in agreement – barely, December 16, 2018, Countries have to do far more to curb the use of fossil fuels and deforestation to avoid droughts, floods and storms associated with global warming.

Hence research and exploration of alternate energy sources is the need of the hour so that scarce natural resources are not depleted and exhausted

Sheshu Babu is a frequent contributor for


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