Instigator / Pro

Alternative energy can effectively replace fossil fuels


The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

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After 1 vote and with 6 points ahead, the winner is...

Publication date
Last updated date
Number of rounds
Time for argument
Two days
Max argument characters
Voting period
Two weeks
Point system
Multiple criterions
Voting system
Contender / Con

Rules: each round each debater asks up to 5 questions to their opponent in addition to their argument. In round 2 and after they answer the opponent's questions, or may drop them if they wish, but voters will judge which questions brought up better points in addition to their case.

alternative energy: energy generated in ways that do not deplete natural resources or harm the environment, especially by avoiding the use of fossil fuels and nuclear power.

effective: producing a decided, decisive, or desired effect (in this case, sufficient to replace fossil fuels as an energy source)

fossil fuels: a natural fuel such as coal or gas, formed in the geological past from the remains of living organisms.

Round 1
Premise: I only have to prove that alt. energy is good at replacing fossil fuel, not necessary 100%, but at least partially. Some situations, some people will still use fossil fuel whether out of actual need or want, but "effectively" infers that most situations would be satisfactory, or have benefits out weigh the negatives.

People's support: 
  • "59% say protecting environment is more important than traditional energy
  • Over seven in 10 favor development of alternative energy vs. oil, gas, coal
  • Majority favor higher emissions standards, enforcement of regulations" 
This is important because if people are unwilling to replace fossil fuels, then obviously it cannot effectively replace fossil fuels. But here we see majority support. So there is no problem here. Because the people's ideas matter. Unless con comes up with good reasoning not to listen to them, this point stands.

A study says: "Dramatic fall in costs of renewable energy in the last 24 months has not only accelerated the replacement of fossil fuels by renewable energy in electricity generation. The low cost renewable electricity is now starting to replace fossil fuels in other sectors....Another reason is that electricity often offer other opportunities, such as cheaper transport, better control, higher energy efficiency in final production of energy services and lower local environmental costs. Remember that, even if fossil fuel based technology seemed more efficient a long time ago, technology improves over time, and the buying of the fuel itself can result in extra transaction cost that outweighs the one time building of the alt. energy source. Let me prove it with another source:

"Between 2010 and 2019, the cost of large, utility-scale solar photovoltaic projects – where energy is converted directly into electricity – fell by 82%.
What’s the World Economic Forum doing about climate change?

Over the same period, the other main type of solar, concentrating solar power – which uses mirrors or lenses to create power through heat – fell by 47%. Falls in wind power costs are also significant: 39% for onshore wind and 29% for offshore." Unless con can refute the first study, and IRENA's recent showing of the progress in the last 10 years, it seems to me he has lost.


Global warming (CO2 generation) -- to avoid this become *that* debate, here's source that proves CO2 causes rising temperature, pollution (leading to " $74.6 billion a year in public health burdens "), these are crucial problems that cause fossil fuel to be controversial. Not to mention that in terms of jobs, " 335,000 people work in the solar industry and more than 111,000 work in the wind industry, compared to 211,000 working in coal mining or other fossil fuel extraction". That's right, even more people work in alt than fossil fuels. So... Alt. energy is env. friendly, causes no pollution, and is far more stable than fuels overall. Fossil fuel has extra costs other than merely money associated with it, especially with public health and environment. Unless con can refute this, alt. energy not only can replace fossil fuel effectively, it is actually far far superior. 
Contention: The terminology used in the premise is vage, there is no way to comprehend "not 100%, but partially". I will contest under the premise that alternative fuel can replace conventional energy in 50 % cases in all of the concerned scenarios and a time period of next 10 years. 

Counter argument to the poll: Most people cannot identify the difference between 1 st generation bioethanol and 2 nd generation bioethanol, or an SI or a CI engine thus their opinion is of no value. People support does not matter at all, why is it so PRO will explain in the next point. 

How are fossil fuel industries are being able to continuously improve their output? 
If they were to continuously follow the same methodology, oil production should have slumped. Recently stock market indicates anything but a slump, oil barrel prices went negative, which means companies will pay you to but oil from them( temporarily during the corona-virus pandemic). This happened due to continuous improvement in technology and recent partnership with big-tech companies.

Why big-tech companies partnership with fossil fuel industries is scary? 
Firstly big-tech companies partnership with fossil fuels leaves no room for major investments in alternative fuels and energy. Amazon, Microsoft, Google have all partnered with fossil fuel industry, and any decline in fossil fuel production with affect their bottomline. So they can effectively stear all investments from alternative fuels and energy. Big-tech companies and few other firms control almost all the money in the market, without investment it is impossible to develop alternative fuels. 

Alternative fuels and the how it affects the grid
Major reason why alternative fuels cannot supply 50 or even close is the way in which they work, Solar and Wind are unreliable, there are susceptible to natural variations in wind and solar light. The electric grid is not designed to fluctuate along with production, it needs stable 24*7 electricity. Coal and Nuclear plants currently working in lighting up PRO's house, are only economical and safe when they are operated 24*7 under very strict conditions. These powerplant work in a reverse way they cannot be operated sporadically. Chernobyl happened because they tried to tamper with it. Thus when the energy demand does up at night, alternative energy 
stops producing any energy at all. Grid cannot handle such fluctuations, that is the sole reason we still use fossil fuels. 

Why not store the energy during daytime?
Researshers are trying thermal, chemical and gravitational storage types but none cannot store enough energy to supply entire national grids at night. There is nothing right now, with not be in the next 10 years that can solve this problem. 

What will alternative fuels and energy to replace fossil fuels?
The state we are at, in terms of usage of fossil fuels has not developed in 10 or 20 years but in 200 years, it is unreasonable to ask for alternative fuel to compete against fossil fuels. To accelerate the competitive edge alternative fuels needs there needs to billions even trillion of dollar of investments in the field. With big-tech already sided with fossil-fuel industry and fossil-fuel industry having immense influence over various governments around the world any such investment is a long shot. 

Concluding remarks: At current state alternative energy is at a state to discount 20-25% consumption of fossil fuels strictly during daytime, with no immediate replacement in defense,aviation and fuel industry. Currently biofuels only constitute 5-10% of energy production in the industry of fuels.  

Round 2
Fossil Fuel investment?

Con's support is from Vox, a highly questionable source. Under severe critical analysis, it's been found it has less than 50% reliability, less than a coin flip for goodness sake. If we take a look at the opposite sources it seems far more convincing that Google and Amazon are doing the exact opposite. Silicon Angle says, "Meanwhile, Google LLC announced today it’s making what it says is the biggest-ever corporate purchase of renewable energy, increasing its worldwide wind and solar energy portfolio by more than 40%, to 5,500 megawatts." CNBC has reported similar news recently, "Google has pledged to stop building customized artificial intelligence (AI) tools that help oil and gas firms to extract fossil fuels worldwide. " along with the fact that A Google spokesperson confirmed to CNBC that the company “will not ... build custom AI/ML algorithms to facilitate upstream extraction in the oil and gas industry.”  Clearly, Vox's case begins to fall apart especially considering it was the only source offered, highly plausible for Texas sharpshooter fallacy. 

Remember, the debate does not have to mean, renewable energy can replace it NOW, RIGHT NOW, exactly NOW, THIS YEAR, or even the next year. The idea is that with current trends it CAN eventually convincingly effectively replace fossil fuels. Obviously, if magic made all fossil fuels disappear into thin air, the stock would crash, ruin economy, and you would be rushed to try investing in alt. energy. According to a scholarly study, "Total funding for RE has been rising at a remarkable rate. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), the amount of RE finance... rose from USD 45 billion in 2004 to 270 billion in 2014 globally (Fig. 2). This represents a compound annual growth rate of 18%. Moreover, in 2014, net investment into new capacity, as opposed to replacing depreciated assets, was twice as large for RE as it was for fossil fuels in the power sector; this trend is forecast to continue for the rest of this decade". Now you see how reasonable renewable energy overtaking fossil fuel is.

Con says there is no way that renewable energy can supply the power grid, but I disagree. "A thorough analysis carried out by the University of Delaware and Delaware Technical Community College concluded that renewable energy could reliably power a large electrical grid 99.9 per cent of the time by 2030, at a cost that matches today’s electricity prices."  Another site supported that with wide distribution of power sources, con's arguments fail. It's very long of a study, but some crucial facts are: "Dispatchability: Resilient DERs can respond to a disruption at any time with little to no advance warning.
2. Islanding Capability: Resilient DERs have the ability to isolate from the grid and serve load during a
broader outage.
3. Siting at Critical Loads/Locations: Resilient DERs reside at critical loads or at critical points on the grid
(e.g., areas of high residential density).
4. Fuel Security: Resilient DERs do not rely on the availability of a limited physical fuel to provide power..." So on and so forth.

As you can see more distributed energy sources are more reliable, contrary to con's opinion. And the electrical grid failure as con claims is not a big problem.

Con has DROPPED pollution/health costs. Con has DROPPED the cost of fuel itself as an argument.  Con says people's opinion doesn't matter if they don't understand specifics, but even experts agree that US could be renewable energy reliant in 15 years. Con used ONE unreliable source to try proving the stock investment is too much, while it is not so. He gives EMPTY CLAIMS about inability to supply the grid, but I have counter-evidence. It seems clear I hold the upper hand in this debate.

PRO has cited obejctions to sources: I will defend with full force. Google's announcement came on May 20, 2020. CON was caught off-guard, it was a very recent announcement. It does not deny that Google was involved in developing solutions for FF industry . Microsoft and Amazon are still in this game. One cannot critisize a source for being unreliable when the article I cited was published on Jan 1,2020.   

PRO's investment argument: Pro cites investments but the same study also points out that the FF industry is pegged at 1.1 trillion dollars and of the total it is around 16% of the 1.6 trillion dollars spent. Which has been PRO's stance from the first place 20-25% market penetration nothing more than that. 

PRO's highlight of the Delaware study: CON has previously highlighted 20-25% market penetration is fairly possible, university of delaware study chooses cryogenic storage of hydrogen, which is at best in pilot program stages across the world. The article is good but it only tackles economics of the problem, attaching the DOI number: 10.1016/j.jpowsour.2012.09.054 

Cryogenic storage increases the volumetric density by liquefying H2 but still liquid or cryogenic hydrogen occupies three times more volume than gasoline for the same energy content. The LH2 technology is not used frequently for several reasons. Firstly, around 35% of the fuel energy is used to turn the fluid to liquid state (three times more energy than is needed to compress it). Secondly, due to the hydrogen boil-off, the LH2 can evaporate even with highly insulated tanks. Thirdly, the LH2 pressure quickly increases as heat is absorbed from the environment. It is therefore necessary to vent the tank every 3–5 days. Finally, during the usage of the vehicle, it is common to observe pressurization of the H2 because of heat absorption.

Same time CON would like to highlight that the study took only a 72 GW system in consideration, which does not even cause a dent in the world's 18 TW or 18000 GW consumption. 

Cost: Solar and wind energy is good and fine how to produce energy at night? and where to store it ?

Grid: Quoting the same study “A DER is a resource sited close to customers that can provide all or some of their immediate electric and power needs and can also be used by the system to either reduce demand (such as energy efficiency) or provide supply to satisfy the energy, capacity, or ancillary service needs of the distribution grid. The resources, if providing electricity or thermal energy, are small in scale, connected to the distribution system, and close to load. Examples of different types of DER include solar photovoltaic , wind, combined heat and power , energy storage, demand response , electric vehicles , microgrids." They have included FFs and they are only talking about diversifying energy sources not switching to RE. 

15 year study: Same study also quotes it would need electron superhighways to transport the energy and same article also cites "If you think about it from a regulatory and a market resolution standpoint, I just think there’s a lot of things that would have to get resolved". Basically it would need super-grids. 

Concluding remarks: Every study on economics is good, when it comes to implementation and engineering side of it all goes haywire. Trying to store hydrogen on an industrial scale at -253 C is very difficult. I am not opposing alternative fuels and I never have, but shouting on politicians like Greta Thunberg does not change the actuality of the situation. Design for biofuel based engine is there, but only 5 to 10% ethanol mixing is achieved that too in USA that too from ethanol made from food grains not other biomass. Advocating is great but unless the technical problems are solved nothing can get done and we are only talking about US think about India, Nepal, What about african countries? 
Round 3
Commitment: Please read the Silicon Valley article, it also concerns Amazon. And also, Microsoft is easily disproved by this source that shows it's 100% powered be renewable energy. That's right. 100%. Meaning they show that alt. energy already is capable of replacing fossil fuels. Notice how Con only listed three big guys who seemed to not invest, while there are much more investors. Just a few listed here are Visa, Blackstone, Brookfield Renewable Partners, etc...  "over the next 10 years, $5 trillion to $10 trillion overall will be invested into renewable energy worldwide". Negated thoroughly. Next, Con is only looking at the NOW and not at the data trends on how renewable investment will definitively continue to grow, perhaps surpassing and replacing fossil fuels eventually. 

Con keeps looking on specifics but not on how overall distribution gives more ideas to ways to support the energy necessity. National Renewable Energy Lab has a famous quote, "Renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available today, in combination with a more flexible electric system, is more than adequate to supply 80% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050. " And now he moves the goal post to also providing African countries. Can he support that this is a good thing? Must I continue stressing the fact that global warming, which contributed by man made carbon dioxide poisoning, kills 150,000 people per year? Alright, this is a new statistic in the debate, but I already said this was a stressful problem in finances alone. Con refuses to counter the idea that the pollution causes the health sector massive costs that negate fossil fuel's seemingly low cost. As years pass by, fossil fuels will become equally unmaintainable as con claims Hydrogen alone is impossible. NASA even released a growing trend of deaths prevented by using Nuclear power (which is indeed controversial itself, but goes to show how much damage could be prevented by going into renewable energy!) 

Voters, which is more important? People's lives? Or the possibility that ONE out of many energy may not be very stable? Would you rather go a few days without power-- which we have done on a daily basis hundreds of years ago, before electricity was invented -- or would you rather have tens of thousands people and animals die each year due to the pollution of fossil fuels? Indeed, we must bring a call to action now. Con has not demonstrated that fossil fuels should continue its rampage, especially since Renewable energy can provide energy well in ten years, the finance invested is growing, and his support is rather limited. He keeps moving the goal post, first claiming that solar and wind was unreliable, but when faced with the idea of worldwide power grids storing energy, he now talks about storing Hydrogen, merely the number one method. Where's number two? Number three? Numbers four through however many alternative energy sources are there? It's not like fossil fuel where it's just one type of source. We are running out of fossil fuel, while renewable energy seems like a good and reasonable future.

Vote for pro.