Sunday 15 June 2008

Oil price rise for the good?

Oil price rise should be a reminder that we cannot continue to use petroleum products lavishly. Under the current rate of petroleum usage, the world reserves shall last for about 30 years only.

What is the solution?

Reduce the usage of petroleum products to the least possible. More emphasis should be given to explore renewable energy sources and should encourage more people to use non conventional energy sources. There will be international pressure to cut oil subsidies because of the subsidised oil prices in developing countries like China & India, the demand for petroleum is rapidly increasing. So better we act soon to utilise renewable energy sources.

How to reduce petroleum usage?

* Improve public transport system by introducing mass rapid transit systems and discouraging use of private vehicles.

* Reduce congestion on roads - maintain wider roads and good road surfaces.

* Use alternative sources of energy wherever petroleum products are used.

Biofuel is the buzzword now for renewable energy which can replace petroleum products. Biodiesel and ethanol can be mixed with existing fuels in vehicles and oil companies are promoting them to sustain their business further, whereas biogas or bio methane is found to be the cleanest among biofuels – considering the energy requirements (thereby pollution) for extracting the fuel from various sources.

Biogas – three birds in one shot

Biogas or bio-methane is produced through the anaerobic decomposition of organic materials by certain bacteria. A wide range of materials can be used as feedstock in biogas plants like municipal solid wastes & waste water, cellulose materials like parts of green plants (including aquatic weeds water hyacinth & duckweed), non edible oil cakes, starchy kitchen wastes, human & animal wastes, etc.

By reusing the wastes generated by people as an energy source, we will be saving a lot of resources and at the same time solving the menace of processing those wastes. Another added advantage is that we will able to reduce the green house gas emissions by trapping the biogas which would otherwise be lost from landfills. We can sell the carbon credits earned this way to companies who want to lower their carbon footprint.

Plastic wastes can also be reused as fuel. Plastics, being derived from petroleum, have the energy content similar to petroleum fuels and it also a good opportunity which can be explored.

Governments should ensure that the dependence on petroleum imports is at the minimum, by promoting renewable energy sources (not just for electricity generation) to the maximum extend. The people should be advised on the benefits to the current and future generations by using alternate sources.

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