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Oil is not going to last forever - Do We have an Alternative Source?

By Randy Collins Subscribe to RSS | January 9th 2012 | Views:

The world's energy needs are growing by the day and we do not know where exactly we would stand in a couple of Centuries from now. There have been some wild guesses as to how long the planet's oil resources are going to last. Some estimates put it at 50 years and some at a more optimistic 200 years given the provision for more oil reserves being detected and tapped. However, depletion is not an uncertainty and the grim reality is that we could simply run out of oil someday and that would indeed be chaotic. Imagine the whole world without a drop of oil. It is not the height of alarmism, however there is no denying the fact that it is a distinct possibility that we are wantonly ignoring.

The entire world consumes around 87 million barrels of oil per day with the United States topping the list; we burn up almost 18 to 19 million barrels per day. This is followed by the European Union, China, Japan and India who are the major oil consuming (though not producing) nations in the world. There are 4 major sectors where oil is consumed are Transportation, Residential. Commercial and Industrial, with transportation turning out to be the insatiable guzzler taking the lion's share of what is produced. Of this, almost 68% is used by personal use vehicles in the United States. With automobile production speeding up considerably and countries like China and India increasing usage of personal use vehicles the demand is set to outstrip supply around 2015, unless stringent measures are adopted to contain the production and use of automobiles for personal use worldwide, and alternatively an alternate source of energy is developed.

We all know that the world cannot do without transportation which key to trade and commerce. However, the grim truth is that unless something is done at the earliest, the future looks pretty bleak. A world without oil cannot be conceived or comprehended. Being used to having our gas tanks filled and driving off without a care in the world is not going to happen forever. The need of the hour is conservation and an alternative source of energy. It is not that nations are not working on this issue.

Japan has come out with an automobile that runs on Hydrogen. Given the potential hazard in using hydrogen as an automotive fuel, it is a commendable attempt. However it is actually an automobile that uses water which is split using electricity to produce hydrogen. The only drawback with this invention is that the amount of energy used to produce the hydrogen is equal to the amount of energy that can be used from the hydrogen produced. It kind of defeats the purpose itself. The other problem with using hydrogen produced by any other method is the hazard associated with storing hydrogen; it needs to be stored at low temperatures in a liquid form which is quite impractical.

The only other potential source left would be effectively tapping solar power. Solar power was first eyed as a potential alternative source of energy way back in the 1860's when there was a fear of the coal reserves depleting. However, with the availability of coal and petroleum in plenty the effort was abandoned. In the recent past there has been a revival and China leads the pack with a generation of 200 MW of watt-peak power as measured in photovoltaic terms. The other countries that have made commendable strides in tapping solar energy successfully are Canada, Italy, Germany and Spain, with a combined output of about 600 MW. Though this may be like chicken feed given the total energy requirements, it is a step in the right direction. The need of the hour is an effective alternative source of Energy to leave behind as a legacy for the coming generations.

Randy Collins - About Author:
Randy is a freelance writer who is concerned with the depleting natural resources of the world and the growing needs of industrialization and the ways and means to meet future demands. He keenly watches related programs on popular cable services like Verizon FiOS TV.

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