Energy from a variety of sources powers activities and services that we rely on every day. Transportation, cooking, lighting and warming all require energy, the majority of which comes from fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas. The growing demand for these non-renewable sources of energy is posing environmental and health challenges, according to Climate.org, as energy use and production contribute more than 88 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. They can also lead to air pollution, oil spills and acid rain.
As a result, people have increasingly sought alternative fuels, including ethanol, natural gas, propane, hydrogen, biodiesel, electricity, methanol and p-series fuels. Many of these so-called biofuels are made from agricultural products, such as corn, sugar cane, vegetable oils and animal fats. Companies and research institutions have applied these alternative energy forms to cars, electricity generators and even small-scale machinery. The U.S. government supported this endeavor by offering tax incentives to consumers purchasing certain alternative fuel vehicles and by pledging with other world nations to reduce the worldwide emissions of heat-trapping gases by half by 2050.
Although considered cheaper, more sustainable and more environmentally sound, there is some evidence that biofuels are contributing to greenhouse gas emissions due to the large amount of natural land being converted to cropland globally to support their development.
For more information on energy resources and alternative fuels, check out the Web sites below.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
NREL is a national laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, operated by Midwest Research Institute.
United States Energy Association
The United States Energy Association, the U.S. Member Committee of the World Energy Council, is an association of public and private energy-related organizations, corporations and government agencies designed to represent broad interests of the U.S. energy sector by increasing the understanding of energy issues, both domestically and internationally.
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