Fossil fuels are the most used forms of fuel in the whole world for more than a century now. Fossil fuels derive their name from their origin; they were formed millions of years ago during the Carboniferous era (Bartels et al, 2006). When plants and animals died, the remains descended to the bottom of the water bodies such as the sea. Over millions of years, plenty of layers of sediment were added on top of the dead layer known as peat. The overhead weight turned into sedimentary rock formations and compacted the peat over time. Further deposits on top of the sedimentary rock squeezed the peat even further. The result was the fossil fuels we use today: coal, oil, and natural gas (Lehr, Nitsch, Kratzat, Lutz, & Edler, 2008).
Coal was the first fuel to go into mainstream use. Initially, coal was used as a domestic fuel during the Renaissance era (Andreassen, et al, 1993). During the industrial revolution, Coal was used to run machines in the industry and running some rail engines. Discovery of oil around the same time changed fortunes even more. Kerosene obtained from refining of crude oil mined in America. Lighting and home heating offered the main uses for kerosene. In Europe, natural gas was used for lighting until the invention of the light bulb by Edison (Bechberger & Reiche, 2004).
Currently, by-products of petroleum are used to run automobiles and machines in some industry. Natural gas is used as cooking gas in many homes. Due to the steep level of industrialization there is an increased effort to lower the carbon (IV) oxide emissions that result from the use of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are notorious for causing environmental degradation due to their low rate of decomposition. More and more countries are resorting to navigate to cleaner and renewable sources of energy to run their main industries. It is very necessary that we find alternative sources of energy because most of the oil reserves in use right now are going to be depleted in the next few years (Braun, Degner, Glotzbach & Saint-Drenan, 2008).
The alternative forms of energy in use, today are vast with much research being carried out. The main alternatives to using right now are solar energy, wind energy, nuclear energy, and hydroelectric power. Nuclear is by far the most advanced and only a few countries in the world are nuclear capable. The amount of energy return on investment is very high. Solar energy is the most popular of the remaining options and. use of solar panels to transform sunlight into electric energy powers many homes and a certain level of industries all over the world (Lehr, Lutz & Edler, 2012). Especially in regions that are experiencing severe climate change and arid areas, use of solar panels is encouraged in developed as well as developing countries. There is also research into inventing cars that run on solar energy to replace the current ones. Hydroelectric power is one of the highly used forms of clean, renewable energy today. Tapping of water in dams and using turbines generates hydroelectric power. Many countries have a national grid that is supplied by hydroelectric power. The biggest hydroelectric power plant in the world right now is in China (Hall, Lobina & Terhorst, 2013).
Use of renewable energy conserves the limited resources and prepares us for the transition to a world without oil. Much of the effects that occurred due to the use of fossil fuels can be reversed slowly if the fossil fuels are substituted for cleaner forms of energy such as wind and solar energy. Some of the byproducts of fossil fuels e.g. harmful poisonous gasses are detrimental to people’s health. Use of cleaner means of energy ensures that people are free from these effects. Use of renewable sources of energy affects the economy in that it reduces the fluctuation that is caused by the fluctuation of oil prices in the world market. Economy stability is an important prerequisite for economic growth (Schellschmidt, Sanner, Pester & Schulz, 2010).
Germany forms one of the countries in the world leading to the efficient production of energy. Even though the non-renewable sources of energy account for much of the country’s usage, Germany has one of the most advanced renewable energy source plans in the world. In 2014, the use of renewable energy was bigger than the use of non-renewable energy for the first time. The chief producers of renewable energy are wind, biogas, solar and nuclear. On December 12, 2014 Germany recorded a whopping 562GWh of wind energy, setting the benchmark on world renewable energy statistics. There are extensive wind farms established in Germany that create wind energy. Offshore wind farms are an important development although there is the problem of transmission of energy to far off areas. Use of wind energy has increased the number of employed people. The number of people employed in 2009 was twice the figure in 2004 (Bechberger & Reiche, 2004).
Lastly, Germany’s plans for the future are integrated with the energy transition. There is a focus to supply first and not the other way around. The country is also establishing more and more power generating centers all over the country as opposed to previous centralized organs (Schellschmidt, Clauser & Sanner, 2000).SO far, Germany has passed most of the targets that it set for renewable energy in the last decade. Currently, the transition is meant to reduce the use of coal in the mainstream industry. There is also effort to reduce electric consumption. Germany’s model has set the bar high for countries who are interested in following the same path. The good thing, however, is that Germany has shown that it is possible to transit from non-renewable to renewable sources of energy, through careful and meticulous planning and commitment (Wüstenhagen & Bilharz, 2006).
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