Ideas for alternative energy have been present among the scientific community for generations. With attempts being made to reduce dependency on foreign sources of oil and curb overall energy consumption, various forms of alternative energy seem to offer great hope for powering modern society without such a reliance on fossil fuels. For all of their positive effects and clean technologies, however, there are negative effects of alternative energy.
The types of alternative energies mentioned here include solar, tidal, wind, ethanol and hydrogen power. It must be said that even though these negative effects are possible, it does not mean alternative energies should be ignored. They are correctly interpreted as challenges to be overcome, not reasons to discard the ideas.
1. Ethanol Increases Fuel Prices
A negative byproduct of using ethanol as a replacement for fossil fuels to power automobiles is that its production drives up the cost of food. Instead of using the corn to feed the livestock, much of it is diverted to ethanol production which has the effect of making the corn that does feed livestock more expensive. This, in turn, makes meat and other food products more expensive. At worst, using corn for ethanol production could jeopardize food supplies.
2. Negative Net Energy
One of the biggest negative effects of using alternative energy sources is the troublesome fact that it often requires more fossil fuel inputs than the energy source yields. Hydrogen power is especially problematic in this regard, but it is true for all alternative energies to some extent. They all require fossil fuel inputs to produce, transport and maintain their components.
3. Space and Location Issues
Solar power especially requires large tracts of land in order to generate the kind of power necessary for large cities, let alone a whole nation. This problem might be solved if every home and building was equipped with individual solar panels, but in terms of a large scale power production facility, this helps to hold it back.
4. Harmful Effect on Environment and Wildlife
The argument here is that wind turbines kill birds as they rotate and that wave or tidal power buoys would disrupt fish migration routes. Opponents of alternative energy may be stretching with this complaint, however, as hydroelectric dams kill more salmon and other species of fish that tidal power buoys would.
5. Unsightly Fixtures
People that live along the coast have voiced the complaint that the installation of wind turbines attached to buoys partially out to sea would sully the view of the ocean and the horizon.
As with anything new and largely untried, there are associated problems. Alternative energy is no different. It is true that there are several negative effects with alternative energy sources, from driving up food prices to overall inefficiency, but there are positive effects too.