Con to the question "Can Alternative Energy Effectively Replace Fossil Fuels?"
"To evaluate other energy sources it helps to understand the concepts of Net Energy, or the Energy Returned On Energy Invested ratio (EROEI). One of the reasons our economies have grown so abundant so quickly over the last few generations is precisely because oil has had an unprecedentedly high EROEI ratio. In the early days of oil, for every barrel of oil used for exploration and drilling, up to 100 barrels of oil were found. More recently, as oil recovery becomes more difficult, the ratio has become significantly lower. Certain alternative energy 'sources' may actually have EROEI ratios of less than one, such as many methods of industrially producing biodiesel and ethanol, or extracting oil from shale. That is, when all factors are considered, you probably need to invest more energy into the process than you get back.
Hydrogen, touted by many as a seamless solution, is actually an energy carrier, but not an energy source. Hydrogen must be produced using an energy source such as natural gas or nuclear power. Because of energy losses in transformation, the hydrogen will always contain less energy than was invested in it.
Some alternatives such as wind and hydro-power may have much better EROEI, however their potential expansion may be limited by various physical factors. Even in combination it may not be possible to gather from renewable sources of energy anything like the rate and quality of energy that industrial society is accustomed to...
For certain tasks, such as air travel, no other energy source can readily be substituted for oil."
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