The fossil fuel versus renewable energy debate has gone on for a long time. While renewable energy is the ideal energy source, we’ve relied on fossil fuels for centuries, which makes for a habit that’s hard to break. This article shall deep dive into the whole debate and present facts and figures about both types of energy. Both fossil fuel and renewable are comparable in terms of power and functionality. The only setback of using fossil fuel is its finite supply. By finite supply, we mean lag time of thousands and thousands of years. This might not be a pressing issue in the short run. However, as time passes, the finiteness of fossil fuel will become a significant problem.
As of the present moment, the advancement of technology makes fossil fuel readily accessible. The high energy from the burning of fossil fuel flows directly from its source to the end-user. Sadly, every time fossil fuel is being burned, there is an emission of pollution, tainting the environment. As for renewable energy, it is definitely a much cleaner and sustainable alternative. Though the technology to generate it may not be as good or elaborate as compared to fossil fuel, it is slowly catching up.
Alternative Fuelled Vehicles and Alternative Vehicle Fuels
Today, the idea of a car fuelled by other alternatives than diesel or gasoline is no longer just a fantasy. It is a reality. Some alternatives include compressed natural gas, electricity and liquefied natural gas. All of which produce far fewer pollutants in the car exhaust than the traditional diesel and gasoline. Just in the US itself, on-road vehicles are responsible for 27 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and 75 percent of carbon monoxide pollution. These jarring percentages can be driven down if more people opt for a change.
The Energy Policy Act was passed in 1992 to encourage more drivers to opt for alternative fuels. This law mandates for fleet vehicle owners to purchase a minimum number of alternative fuelled vehicles. The Federal Trade Commission oversees the issuance of labels which clearly indicate alternative fuelled vehicles and alternative fuels. These labels will ensure that consumers are well-informed and are able to make sound decisions when purchasing a vehicle or when refueling.
Alternative Fuelled Vehicles
Alternative Fuelled Vehicles, as the name suggests, runs on alternative fuels approved by the US Department of Energy. As mentioned above, the labels issued by the Federal Trade Commission must be displayed clearly in their vehicles. The label will detail mainly the cruising range (maximum distance from a base that the fuel capacity can allow the vehicle to travel and return) and the impact on the environment. The cruising range is important as certain alternative fuelled vehicles can’t run as far as those powered by gasoline and diesel. As for the environmental impact, if your vehicle complies with the Environmental Protection Agency emission standards, the label will be checked off with a caret symbol. It also shows the degree of emissions with a range from Tier I – a vehicle that produces slightly more emissions to ZEV – a vehicle that produces zero emissions.
Before you purchase an alternative fuelled vehicle, there are a few factors to consider. Firstly, the type of fuel that the vehicle runs on. They may all be alternative fuels but there is still a variety of them and certain vehicles are more suited for some. Secondly, the costs incurred. Both maintenance and fuel costs have to be taken into account. Thirdly, the performance of vehicles. How powerful are the vehicles? How far can your vehicle travel with one tank? Lastly, the availability of fuel. Are refueling facilities largely available?
The completed list of alternative fuels is as follows: electricity, liquefied petroleum gas, hydrogen, methanol, coal-derived liquid fuel, ethanol, and natural gas. Some facts: a combination of coal and natural gas makes up methanol. Methanol is sold as a mixture of 15 percent gasoline and 85 percent methanol in the market. Ethanol, on the other hand, is made from agricultural waste and is sold as a mixture of 15 percent gasoline and 85 percent ethanol in the market.
Alternative fuels have orange labels to differentiate them from gasoline and diesel which are labeled in yellow. On the orange labels, the components are listed along with a short description making it very transparent. The rating of alternative fuels (excluding electricity) is a minimum percentage of its main component. For electricity, ratings are measured in kilowatt, voltage amperage. This includes the type of current whether it is direct or alternating and whether the system is inductive or conductive.
Consider the Alternatives
So you might be asking, why should you spend more to switch to alternative fuelled vehicles and use alternative fuels?
If the above statistics about the damage caused by the emission of cars is not frightening enough, here’s another. 200 million on-road vehicles in the US produced emissions make up 50 percent of pollution in the air and over 80 percent when it comes to urban air pollution. Every driver can do their part to bring down these appalling figures. By opting for alternative fuelled vehicles, you can help drive total vehicle emissions down. By opting for local alternative fuels as compared to imported oil, you will be helping more than one cause. Not only do you contribute to cleaner air, but you will also help create job opportunities in your very own country and boost the country’s economy.
Since alternative fuels have lower energy than gasoline, you will find yourself refueling more often for the same distance traveled. Alternative fuelled vehicles are also pricier than gasoline fuelled ones. The higher costs incurred might be a disturbing fact to you but do keep in mind that what’s more disturbing than that is a polluted world. This pollution is so detrimental that we are not even sure how many more generations can live to see the natural world. But that does not have to be the case.
Of course, the best way to help the environment is to drive less and take more public transport. That is the only way to greatly reduce the number of vehicles on the road. But if you really have to drive, please consider switching to fuel alternatives.