Anonymous asked in EnvironmentGreen Living · 1 decade ago

If pursuing alternative energy (solar, wind, etc) have a lot of benefits, why do some people still oppose it?

Wouldn't it create more jobs and be better for the environment, and also reduce dependency on foreign oil?

What are some reasons why some people are against alternative energy?

13 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    Alternative energy is much like alternative medicine in that it isn't really any good (you're assuming it has a lot of benefits when it turns out that it doesn't (unless you're a coal miner whose job would go were a switch to nuclear power to occur)).

    Hydro and geothermal work OK but only for limited areas (and high levels of hydro are one of the things that countries with low CO2 emissions tend to have along with high levels of nuclear) and we're probably not going to be able to build much new hydro in the developed world due to environmental reasons.

    Wind turns out to be almost useless due to the low reliability (and people are starting to realise that it is useless) since it requires either energy storage technology (pumped hydro which is all we have isn't really good enough) or fossil fuel backup (which means you still have to emit CO2 when the wind isn't blowing) and that fossil fuel backup is usually simple cycle gas turbines (converting them to combined cycle and removing the wind turbines would probably reduce CO2 emissions).

    Of course there are times when wind power is built without sufficient spinning reserve, such as in Texas which has been having to do load shedding of big industrial customers when the wind stops (that's a pretty big deal) due to their 3% wind power suddenly going off-line. Wind doesn't look like it's capable of even 5% of a grid without energy storage technology.

    Solar is less unreliable than wind but if your solar panels are on Earth they only work less than half the time (though there is a bit more predictability in terms of when the clouds are going to role in and when it'll be night than there is with wind), of course PV happens to be about the most expensive way to generate electricity on Earth (only Pu238 RTGs cost more and those things are pretty much restricted to the space program (and used where solar can't work)).

    Biofuels really screw up food prices and when deforestation is taken into account turn out to emit more CO2 than oil. A lot of them (e.g. wood) are very polluting (enough to justify a ban on wood fired heaters).

    Other reasons to be against alternative energy are NIMBY issues like hydroelectric dams requires flooding people's homes (and risk to those who live downstream), wind turbines producing a lot of noise (and possible negative health effects from infrasonics (more study is needed though)) along with a strobe light effect to those who live near them (an exclusion zone would probably work though) as well as opposition to the transmission lines used to get the power from the remote environmental sources of energy to the grid (the health effects from power lines have been investigated and found to not exist but that doesn't stop people from fearing them). Those issues would be minor issues if the alternative energy sources actually were useful (i.e. we could deal with them) but with useless energy sources that's too big a price to pay.

    The large scale of most alternative energy projects also causes significant environmental problems, wind turbines are stealing energy from the wind and solar power plants often require trees to be cut down (then there are the bird and bat death issues with wind power and the waste issues of solar panel production (a solar panel is a big silicon chip)) whereas we should be using an energy source that is concentrated enough for mining and waste disposal to be of minimal impact.

    "Wouldn't it create more jobs"

    So what? Doing pretty much anything can create jobs.

    Personally I'd rather have as few people as possible work in the energy industry, that way we could have more people doing other jobs. You basically just want to waste human resources.

    Besides, wind turbines are actually a lot more dangerous than most people realise, quite a few people have died installing and maintaining them.

    "and be better for the environment,"

    All that alternative energy does is distract people from nuclear fission which is a proven technology that actually can provide the energy we need, where we need it, when we need it. If not for the belief that wind and solar were viable we'd have probably replaced most of the fossil fuel burning power plants on the planet with nuclear by now (and therefore have already largely solved the global warming problem).

    "and also reduce dependency on foreign oil?"

    Pretty much no electricity is actually generated from oil (which is primarily a transportation fuel) so that leaves biofuels which create new problems with the food supply, dependence on foreign oil is quite a bit better than causing famines in the third world.

  • 1 decade ago

    I think part of it is there is still a lot of money to be made in oil. And the biggest profits are yet to be realized. When it can be made to look like oil is scarce or hard to get, the price will sky rocket, but only if we are still dependant on it. So Oil producers are spending a lot of money to stop legislature or research toward alternate fuel vehicles or fuel efficiency.

    I also think there is a lot of misinformation out there I've seen so many posts about the high cost of solar panel. I speak from experience. I have them and I will break even at about 6 years, that means I'll have free electricity for at least 14. Even without the rebates I would have broken even before 10 years, still 10 years of free electricity. They work anywhere you have sunlight, Germany which isn't near the equator is one of the top users of solar. There is the whole eye sore problem with wind turbines, but that is a perception issue. I think they are beautiful, we got use to looking at high tension lines we will get used to the look of wind turbines.

    Many people don't think we should subsidise the industry. I would rather may tax dollars go toward clean energy which will benifit the whole nation than many of the other things the goverment spends our tax money on that only benifits a few.

    It does creat new jobs, in Ca we have a lot of people who were able to find jobs in the solar installation field that would be out of work now because of the slowdown of home building. Not to mention all the research and development jobs.

  • 4 years ago

    Like you said, the cost is still very high. The reason is that demand is still very low. Now that companies see that demand is growing, the stock market in the solar sector has already increased over many months. The facts is that there is a lack of companies out there, which offer the services to the wide public. Further, there has not been many TV commercials about installing solar panels on your rooftop. (if any, because i haven't seen any yet). Also, technology must first improve. For instance, the science in the development of solar material, rather than solar panels, must improve. Products with solar material, such as solar power walls of some city towers, used in your own home would probably appeal to more customers. Many people just don't like the look of solar panels on their rooftop. That is, if the solar material could be embedded in the material used to build the house. Time will tell, probably soon.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I'm not sure many people do oppose new energy sources - we just don't want to shut down the existing ones. The more the better.

    Be wary of the whole "new green jobs" argument though - to the extent jobs are "created" through tax hikes and government spending, there aren't new jobs created on a net basis - jobs designing, making, shipping and marketing the things we'd have bought with the money, jobs that would have been created, aren't. It's taking water out of one end of the bathtub and dumping it in the other. Net, there's no new water. The economist Bastiat referred to it as the "broken window fallacy" - his example was a broken window. If I break your car windshield that's more business for the glazier - but lost business for whoever makes whatever you'd have spent the $200 on.

    Oh and by the way solar and wind have nothing to do with oil. We generate less than 2% of our electricity with oil. It's a backup fuel for Northeastern plants for when natural gas is too high priced or too scarce in mid-winter because of its use as a heating fuel.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I don't know if many people are against it but we still have to learn a lot. The use of these sources is still more expensive than using fossil fuel. But rising energy costs, and the inability to calculate energy costs is pushing us onto the road of more research and application of clean resources.

    This is an inevitable trend. Oil reserves are dropping and demand is growing. So if we want to survive we need to figure out new ways. And this is going to be the next big boom and paradigm shift. Green is big money. Investors famous for supporting start ups like Google, Netscape and Amazon are now throwing themselves on green investments. Its only a matter of time.


  • 1 decade ago

    It's much more expensive and less efficient.

    For example, solar panels are very expensive.

    To use the energy from them,

    you need to convert it from DC currents to AC currents.

    This is rather costly, and converter boxes take up lots of space and energy.

    Furthermore, solar panels aren't efficient unless you have lots of sun,

    like in states like California

    or places near the equator.

    Wind energy has its benefits, but many think of windmills, etc.

    as eyesores; furthermore, there are few places where windmills can be placed.

    So it's hard to get a lot of energy from wind.

    Dams are another source of energy;

    however, these haven't been built for years.

    Often, these dams are super expensive and inefficient to build or repair.

    Furthermore, they may mess up mating/migration patterns of fish.

    And nuclear energy is also a solution,

    but its wastes are very toxic, and cannot be stored or disposed of easily.

    Furthermore, contamination from radioactive materials is very toxic and dangerous.

    [e.g. Love Canal]

    I'm sure that if people tried, they'd be able to

    find more efficient /cheaper ways to use renewable energy sources.

    But people are lazy, and using fossil fuels is relatively easy

    and cost-efficient.

  • 1 decade ago

    Interesting previous answers, but some are flat misleading.

    The reality is, even if windmills are free energy...per se....the wind isn't always blowing, you still need petroleum products to grease the gears, there's also been studies that show that the turbines themselves and transmission lines effect people that live near them. Then there's the asthetic appeal, who wants to litter the countryside with windmills ? After all Ted Kennedy himself said he doesn't want to see them off his east coast. I guess the rich are priveledged to live in pristine area's and not have to compromise for alternative energy while the poor get the coal plant in their back yards.

    Solar is good, however the Polysilica is expensive, so much so that even the cities and companies offering subsidies to install them have cut back the money they will give you because its costing them too much money in revenues. They've even limited in areas how much energy you can actually sell back to the utility companies.

    I wo'nt touch the ethanol arguement, if you do'nt know by now how bad ethanol is, how inefficient and how highly subsidized........"SUBSIZED" meaning the government is making you and me pay for it through out tax money. well then you really don't deserve to be on the enviromental forums since your uninformed and out of touch.

    The most efficient and economical way to power cities is nuclear power, that is the only source that can actually power the whole city.

    T Boon Pickens might whine about how oil can't solve the problem for 10 years, but he himself said that ths wind idea will take 10 years...and in the end...only supply 10% of the needs. That doesn't sound feasible to me.

    As for vehicles...sure, we can run them on natural gas...but duh....its still a fossil fuel, and i've seen indications that running out of fuel in a NG vehicle causes harm. So why would we transform all of America into such a problem ?

    We already have deisel engine technology. Its been proven that these engines can be converted easily to run on vegitable oil. There's companies out there using vertical grow systems and bio reactors that make biofuel out of algae. Vegitable oil for cars from a source that isn't a food. So no more waste of corn, no more effecting the economy and cost of living, no requirement to retool auto dealers across the nation for a different technology or forcing people to buy a different and new car that they are not sure will perform like the old version.

    I support solar , I think windmills can supplement small facilities but for the most part they are limited in usefullness.

    But lets not demonize oil all because the democrats and liberal media have told you to. We will always need oil, to make plastic containers, medicine, lubricants, makeup, etc, etc. It is an integral part of our life and as technology does pollution.

    Lets not also forget that you can't just drop a technology or economic sector and change it over night. It has to be phased out. If gas disappeared would you get to work ? how would electricity be generated for your home ? or work ? What of the millions of products that exist due to oil extracts ? I'd bet your not even ready to go totally natural and "green" without any oil or oil products in your life.

    Industry making money from oil can't just simply vote to go out of business. When someone comes up with something feasible to replace oil, then it will happen, but nothing has been that good as a replacement. If no one used oil, the companies wouldn't be in business in a free market. When someone comes up with a sure thing, then gradually we will change.

  • 1 decade ago

    1) It's expensive and NOT free.

    2) It may expel CO2 into the air but it would disturb many pristine environments around the globe.

    3) We could drill in the USA and completely rid ourselves off of Middle Eastern oil. We import most of our oil from Canada and Mexico.

    4) They only work when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing which makes them unreliable as a primary energy source.

    Source(s): Common Sense and My Brain
  • 1 decade ago

    Yes to all those questions. It is just that we are not quite there yet withe the technology and people are against it beacuse it would get rid of there own businesses. Also, some people son't believe global warming and scarce resources even exist so they see no point in spending money for that.

  • 3 years ago

    Create Home Solar Power -

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