Two alternatives to fossil fuels that are currently available are geothermal energy and nuclear energy. Some of the barriers that prevent geothermal energy from replacing coal, oil, and natural gas as our primary means of energy are the water requirements for geothermal development projects (Callison, 2010) and the potential for geothermal energy development to contribute to seismic activity (Alley, Blumsack, & Bice, n.d.). Also, geothermal energy sources are only available in certain areas of the United States (Alley, Blumsack, & Bice, n.d.), which limits the widespread use of this energy source around the country. The government plays an important role in ensuring the transition to this alternative in a post-carbon world because local, state, and federal authorities are heavily involved in water distribution, especially in the American west (Callison, 2010). The government is also involved in monitoring seismic activity in geothermal energy development locations in order to guarantee a safe transition to this alternative energy source.
Nuclear energy is another available alternative to coal, oil, and natural gas. However, there are a wide range of barriers to the widespread adoption of nuclear power as a replacement for these energy sources. Some of the obstacles include concerns about safety, the difficulty of constructing nuclear reactors, questions about what to do with the nuclear waste, and a lack of skilled workers with the expertise needed to effectively operate nuclear power plants (Johnson, 2011). The government already heavily regulates the nuclear power industry (Turnk & Bensel, 2014), so it plays an important role in facilitating the transition to this alternative energy source in the future. It is also involved in determining waste disposal sites and methods. Additionally, if nuclear power is to be widely adopted the future, the government will need to be involved in improving its image in the eyes of the American public.
- Alley, R.B., Blumsack, S., & Bice, D. (n.d.). Barriers to adoption of geothermal power generation. Penn State University. Retrieved from https://www.e-education.psu.edu/earth104/node/1303
- Callison, K. (2010). Water and geothermal energy development in the western US: Real world challenges, regulatory conflicts and other barriers, and potential solutions. Pacific McGeorge Global Business & Development Law Journal, 22(2), 301-21.
- Johnson, T. (2011). Nuclear power expansion challenges. Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved from https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/nuclear-power-expansion-challenges
- Turk, J., & Bensel, T. (2014). Contemporary environmental issues. 2nd ed. [Electronic version.] Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu