As a developed nation, it has been compelled to see to it that it develops and adopts alternative fuel sources so as to sustain its economic growth and ensure that the future economy is safe. In the United States of America, the search for alternative fuels was still a matter of concern. Before the year 1920, the super power was still in the verge for searching for alternative fuel sources. In fact, the Stanley Steamer Automobile was not in the market by the mid 1930s (Bernstein, pp 54) the steamer was powered by different types of fuel i.e. gasoline, coal, charcoal, raw petroleum and wood. Combustion of coal and other petroleum products produced smog, which was a health hazard.
Gasoline then became the only source of power for motor vehicles (Berinstein, pp 59). Alternative fuels are usually used to mean fuels for motor vehicles but not gasoline. Any other fuel that is not fossil can also be termed as an alternative fuel source. Alternative sources of energy or power like hydroelectric dams and geothermal power plants cannot be said to be alternative fuel sources.
Alternative fuel is also known as non-conventional fuels. The term alternative fuels usually refer to renewable sources of energy (Hass, pp 61). Examples of common alternative fuels included biodiesel, ethanol, butanol, chemically stored electricity (batteries & fuel cells), peanut oil, hydrogen methane, and natural gas. The growing interest of people desiring to change their way of life is one of the factors which has led to the search for alternative sources of fuel in the United States of America.
People desire to raise their living standards by looking for alternative sources of fuel. They need power sources, which are efficient and can be relied on. In addition, United States economy is high and the nation wants to ensure that production and manufacturing of goods and services is not affected so the nation has seen to it that sources of power are efficient and reliable. As a Super power, the United States of America has to ensure that its politics are carried out well not to forget its fight against terrorism which requires effective power sources.
One of the reasons for the search for alternative fuel sources is sustainability. The economy, environment, and the geopolitics of the United States of America require sources of fuel which can be sustained. One of the main aims when looking for a source of fuel is its ability to store energy. The energy has to be stored in a form that is stable and that can be transported easily from its point of production to the consumer. Most fuels that store chemical potential energy are referred to as chemical fuels. This is important so that the user will consume the fuel whenever he wants.
The energy released is in the form of heat and can be used as a source of power for an engine or a source of heat for a building. Most alternative sources of fuel can be used more than once and can sustain their energy for long a long period of time. The United States of America has had a great zeal and zest to search for alternative fuel sources. This is as a result of the environmental hazards caused by the existing ones. Secondly, another major concern has been the fact that, direct use of conventional fuels may contribute to the global warming crisis.
Continued use of alternative fuels in the United States of America has affected and will continue to affect the countrys economy. For instance, in the 1940s, there was a lot of smog in American cities, which caused a serious hazard to its environment ( Bernstein pp 60) in the 1960s, most of Americas waters were not fit for human consumption because there was a lot of acid rain poisoning (Flavin, pp 98 ). As a result, American States decided to rise up and fight air pollution, which was eminent in their states. Each state stood by itself and decided to take measures to end the eminent dangers.
Laws were enacted by the federal government whose aim was to reduce air pollution and eventually end it (Hostetter pp 76). In the early 1990s, vehicles powered by ethanol were introduced in the market in a bid to meet the regulations of the 1990 Clean Air Act in the United States. By the end of the year 1999, ethanol, which is produced from corn and other plant products yield approximately $5 billion (US Dollars) annually to farmers (Hass pp 60). Vehicles powered by electricity were also introduced in the market. The major set back with these vehicles was that recharging posed a major challenge to the users.
Manufacturers also opted to substitute traditional diesel, which is derived from vegetable oil with biodiesel. Motor vehicle manufacturers in the United States of America have preferred to use methanol, which is derived from natural gas. Consequently, gasoline has been substituted with compressed natural gas (Hass, pp 61). In developed countries like the United States of America, a great percentage of the total energy budget is spent on trucks and automobiles. Since most of the interests on alternative sources of fuels have paid a lot of attention on vehicles used for transportation, which consume nearly ?
of petroleum consumption, most alternative fuels have been found not to be effective (Berinstein pp 34) In the United States of America, alternative fuels are designed with the citizens needs in mind, not withstanding the types of needs, whether economic, political or environmental. For instance, in the Mid-West of the United States of America particularly in Illinois and Minnesota, gasoline is more expensive than E85, environmentally; cars powered by gasoline pollute 90% more than those powered by electricity (Hass, pp 62).
It is costly for governments to develop alternative fuels. Most governments offer task breaks to manufacturing companies, which develop alternative sources of energy (Berinstein, pp 45). Consequently, this will affect a countrys economy and the United States of America is no exception. In addition, the amount of available oil reserves is uncertain. It is difficult to see underground and determine the amount of oil reserves even if the reserves have been supplying oil for a long period of time (proven-reserves).
Nowadays, oil extraction process uses a lot of energy, electrical energy and heat, which comes from natural gas, which is in short supply. Currently, non-conventional oil production is not very efficient in producing energy and has a large environmental impact than conventional oil production (Berinstein pp 69) In conclusion, the United States of America will relentlessly continue to search for alternative fuel sources, which will continue to affect the countrys economy, both negatively and positively, in the present and in the future.
This is because humans cannot meet their social, economic and political needs without the use fuels. What the United States needs is to ensure that the alternative fuel sources can be sustained and cannot cause health hazards to the environment.
Berinstein, P. Alternative Energy: Facts, Statistics and Issues. Westport, Conn. : Oryx Press, 2001. Flavin, C. Clean as a Breeze. Time, 15 December 1997. 60-62 Hass, N. Alternative Fuels. Financial World, 19 January 1993. Hostetter, M. , ed. Energy Policy. New York: H. W. Wilson. 2002.