Why Do We Use Alternative Resources?

Alternative resources, also known as renewable energy, refer to energy sources that are continuously replenished by nature. Unlike fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas – which take millions of years to form naturally – renewable energy comes from sources that are replenished at a much faster rate. Some of the most common types of renewable energy sources include:

  • Solar power – Energy from the sun converted into electricity via solar panels or used directly to heat water or spaces.
  • Wind power – Energy from wind converted into electricity via wind turbines.
  • Hydropower – Energy from flowing water used to generate electricity via hydroelectric dams or tidal power.
  • Geothermal – Energy generated from heat inside the earth and harnessed for heating or electricity generation.
  • Biomass – Organic material like wood, agricultural waste and other biological sources used to generate energy.

These alternative resources offer a wide range of benefits over traditional fossil fuels, which is why their use is growing globally. The rest of this article will explore the top reasons why societies are increasingly adopting renewable energy.

Fossil Fuels Are Finite

Fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas are non-renewable energy sources. This means that there is a limited supply of these fuels on Earth. We cannot produce more fossil fuels than what already exists.

Fossil fuels were formed hundreds of millions of years ago from the remains of ancient plants and organisms. This organic matter was buried under layers of sediment over long periods of time, undergoing intense heat and pressure. This process transformed the organic matter into fossil fuels like oil, coal and natural gas that we use for energy today.

The rate at which we are consuming fossil fuels far exceeds their rate of formation. At current rates of use, our known reserves of fossil fuels will eventually be depleted. Coal reserves may last around 150 years, oil reserves may last around 50 years and natural gas reserves may last around 60 years. Once these finite resources are used up, they cannot be replenished on a human timescale.

Since the world continues to depend heavily on fossil fuels for energy, transportation, manufacturing and more, declining fossil fuel supplies will have significant economic, political and environmental impacts in the future unless alternative energy sources are widely adopted.

Environmental Benefits

using renewable energy sources like solar and wind can help reduce carbon emissions and mitigate climate change.
Transitioning to alternative energy sources like solar, wind, and geothermal can significantly reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change. Fossil fuels release greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when burned, trapping heat and warming the planet. Renewable resources do not release additional carbon but rather harness natural resources like the sun and wind. Widespread adoption of renewables could help reach goals to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate climate change. Solar and wind power generation create no direct waste products or carbon dioxide emissions during operation. While facilities for renewables still produce some emissions during construction and maintenance, they generate substantially less over their lifespan compared to fossil fuel sources. With renewable energy increasing as a proportion of overall generation, regions can lower their carbon footprints.

Energy Independence

By utilizing more alternative energy sources, we can become less reliant on imported fossil fuels. Currently, the United States imports a significant portion of its oil, coal, and natural gas from other countries. This leaves us vulnerable to price fluctuations and supply disruptions based on political tensions or conflicts with other nations. Developing our own domestic renewable energy sources allows the U.S. to take back control of its energy supply. We can harness the power of the sun, wind, water, and other clean resources right here at home. This energy independence enhances national security and protects our economy from being negatively impacted by other countries reducing or blocking the fossil fuels they export.

Investing more heavily in solar, wind, geothermal, and other alternative energy sources will enable the U.S. to meet more of its own energy needs. We have an abundance of these resources within our own borders. Alternative energy also creates more jobs at home, as these technologies require local construction, manufacturing, and maintenance. By expanding alternative energy, we keep American energy dollars circulating within our own economy. A greater reliance on imports puts money in the hands of oil producers overseas. Alternative energy allows us to create and sustain energy jobs here. Energy independence gives the U.S. more control over its economic future.

Cost Savings

Alternative energy sources can provide significant cost savings in the long run compared to fossil fuels. While fossil fuels may seem cheap upfront, they are subject to price volatility and supply constraints as global reserves deplete. The costs of coal, oil, and natural gas have fluctuated wildly over the past decades.

In contrast, renewable energy sources like solar, wind, geothermal, and hydropower have minimal fuel costs once the infrastructure is built. The “fuel” of sun, wind, heat, and water is free. While the initial capital costs may be higher, most renewable energy technologies offer predictable, stable pricing over their operating lifetime of 20-30 years. This makes their overall lifetime costs lower and more controllable.

Various studies have shown that onshore wind, geothermal, and hydropower plants can produce electricity at 3-6 cents/kWh. This is highly competitive with fossil fuel energy that ranges from 4-10 cents/kWh. Solar PV costs have declined dramatically and are approaching fossil fuel parity in many regions.

In addition to direct energy production costs, switching to renewables provides savings by avoiding environmental externalities and energy security risks associated with fossil fuels. When accounting for these indirect benefits, alternative energy is clearly the most cost-effective choice for the long run.

Job Creation

The growth of the renewable energy industry has created numerous new job opportunities. Solar and wind power projects in particular require large numbers of workers to manufacture, install, and maintain the equipment. According to one estimate, the US solar industry employed over 230,000 people in 2019, while wind turbine technician is one of the fastest growing occupations in the country.

The renewable energy transition is shifting jobs away from fossil fuel extraction and towards manufacturing and construction. Building and installing solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, electric vehicles, and other clean technologies is far more labor intensive than maintaining existing fossil fuel infrastructure. Multiple studies have found that transitioning to 100% renewable electricity in the US could support millions of new jobs.

Beyond direct manufacturing and installation jobs, renewable energy stimulates employment across the wider economy. Money not spent on fossil fuels is redirected into other sectors that are generally more labor intensive. This “green job multiplier” effect means each new renewable energy job supports additional jobs in industries like agriculture, education, construction, and food service.

Improved Public Health

Renewable energy sources are often also referred to as clean energy. This is because they cause little to no pollution when generating electricity, unlike conventional fossil fuels. The two most common renewable energy sources, solar and wind, do not emit any harmful air pollution or greenhouse gases. This leads to improved public health and less respiratory illness from polluted air.

Burning fossil fuels like coal and natural gas for electricity emits pollutants like sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and mercury into the air. These have been linked to asthma, heart disease, cancer, neurological damage, and other serious health effects. Children, the elderly, and those who live in highly polluted areas tend to suffer the most from exposure to these pollutants.

A study by the Harvard School of Public Health estimated that air pollution from coal-fired power plants in the U.S. leads to over 13,000 premature deaths each year. The health-related economic costs were estimated at over $100 billion annually. Transitioning to clean renewable energy sources would help avoid a substantial amount of illness, death, and associated costs.

In summary, renewable energy results in cleaner air and reduced pollution-related illness. This leads to a healthier population, fewer healthcare costs, and saved lives. The public health benefits are one of the most compelling reasons to expand the use of alternative energy resources.


While fossil fuel power plants are susceptible to fuel price fluctuations and supply disruptions, renewable energy sources provide a stable and reliable flow of energy. Solar and wind power are dependent on weather conditions, but integrating renewable sources into the grid alongside fossil fuel power plants improves overall reliability. Geothermal and hydroelectric plants have capacity factors of 90% or higher, meaning they reliably generate 90% of their maximum output on average. Battery storage technology is also rapidly improving to smooth out renewable energy generation. A diverse mix of renewable sources combined with energy storage provides a high level of reliability and protects against disruptions to any one source. The variability of wind and solar is predictable and manageable when integrated properly into the grid. Overall, transitioning more energy production to renewable sources will provide greater long-term energy reliability and reduce the vulnerability from reliance on finite fossil fuel reserves.

Limitations of Alternative Energy

While alternative energy sources provide many benefits, they also have some drawbacks and limitations compared to conventional fossil fuels:

High Upfront Costs – The initial investment required for things like solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal systems, etc. can be quite high and not financially feasible for many households and businesses. This can make adoption slower.

Intermittency – Renewable sources like solar and wind are weather dependent and provide intermittent power. This creates challenges for grid stability and storage solutions are still developing.

Land Usage – Solar and wind farms require large amounts of land space which can disrupt habitats and landscapes. However, technologies are improving efficiency and reducing footprints.

Immature Technologies – Some alternative energy tech like wave power and hydrogen fuel cells are still in early development stages and not ready for widescale deployment. There are still improvements needed.

Aesthetic Impacts – Some people oppose construction of wind farms and solar fields due to their visual impact on landscapes and horizons. Careful planning and zoning is required.

Overall, many of the limitations of alternative energy are improving with technological advances and declining costs. But challenges remain in scaling up and integrating these new sources into our existing energy systems worldwide.


In conclusion, there are several compelling reasons why our society should transition to using more alternative energy resources. Fossil fuels like oil, coal, and natural gas are finite resources that will eventually run out. By investing more in renewable sources like solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal and biomass, we can conserve our remaining fossil fuel reserves. Using alternative energy provides environmental benefits by reducing air and water pollution. It allows countries to become more energy independent by relying on domestic energy production rather than imported fuels. Alternative energy can also lead to cost savings for utilities and consumers in the long run. The transition creates jobs in the renewable energy sector, contributing to economic growth. Public health is improved through lower emissions. Renewable sources provide distributed and reliable energy since they are not subject to global supply chain disruptions. Of course, alternative energy has its limitations at present, but continued research, development and infrastructure investment can help overcome technical and storage challenges. Given the many benefits, using more alternative energy resources is crucial for building a sustainable future.

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