The Instigator
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The Contender
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Can we sustain our society's current global infrastructure with only renewable energy resources?

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/22/2013 Category: Society
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,611 times Debate No: 31576
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (2)




[Position]:I would like to begin with saying that my argument is that our current global infrastructure; with its nuclear power plants, rail roads/other means of transportation like metro-buses and airplanes, factories, plastics, car and auto industries, and all other fossil fuel dependent areas/industries, cannot be sustained with ONLY renewable resources (I.e. Wind, Solar, and Hydro power).

****Clarification what nonrenewable energy source are: "Non-renewable energy sources include oil and petroleum products, gasoline, diesel fuel, and propane, natural gas, coal, and uranium used for nuclear energy.".....(****

My first point will be on proving our dependence on nonrenewable (I.e. fossil fuels, Nuclear energy, ect..) energies. My second point will be on the inefficiency of renewable energies, and then I will rap up a quick summary on my position.

[POINT 1]: Proving our dependence on nonrenewable energies.

{Nuclear power plants/Coal powered plants}

According to "Nuclear Power Today," 'There are now over 430 commercial nuclear power reactors operating in 31 countries, with 372,000 MWe of total capacity.'

Also, 'In 2011, the US electricity generation was 4344 billion kWh gross, 1874 TWh (43%) of it from coal-fired plant, 1047 TWh (24%) from gas, 821 TWh (19%) nuclear, 351 TWh (8%) from hydro and 121 TWh (2.8%) from wind.'

Therefore, when faced with the fact that there are over 430 nuclear reactors working in nuclear facilities around the world (in at least 31 countries), and that 19 percent of the US's total electricity supply is supplied by nuclear energy, it is undeniable that by taking away Nuclear power, we would be taking away from a substantial chunk of our overall electricity [energy] supply. This would then cause for an increase in need for an increase in other nonrenewable usage like coal plants (which I will discuss next). Furthermore, by doing away with one, you will increase the increased need on the other; hence, continuing on a path of "thinking" we are doing away with nonrenewable energies, when we are, in actuality, really distributing off that 'need' to another.

Coal powered plants, as stated by my above source, contributes approximately 43 percent of our electricity supply.
-This is the "non-renewable" most attributed for Global Warming when it is burned (just for your information).
According to coal statistics from, "Total world coal production reached a record level of 7,678Mt in 2011, increasing by 6.6% over 2010. The average annual growth rate of coal since 1999 was 4.4%."

The dependence on Coal powered plants is growing every year, but the awareness of Global Warming caused by this form of energy, has also been growing (as can be seen via network/local news stations). Even though this alarm for concern is growing, the statistics above support my claim that we are dependent on nonrenewable energies. By taking such a source away, we would be taking down our energy supply by almost 50 percent. Such a decline CAN NOT be remedied by renewable energies (such as wind, solar, and hydro), which will be stated later when I discuss the inefficiency of renewable energies). Despite the fact that there are now "cleaner," yet unknown how efficient, ways of getting energy from coal, the CURRENT global infrastructure and energy status will not last without this point in time.

In order to keep the fossil fuels area short; to allow for my other points, I will post this link showing the strong percentage of usage/dependence on fossil fuels throughout the world: (

Note:*Speculating on imaginary "advances" in the future will not constitute for "refuting" the fact that "currently" our global infrastructure cannot be sustained by the use of only renewable energies.*

[POINT 2]: Renewable Energies are NOT efficient.

Solar power (one of the major renewable energies).

According to the World Wildlife Fund (rephrased for a research paper; for plagiarism purposes)
Currently, only "0.02 percent of all of our energy supply" is derived from solar energy.

According to SERPD, a solar energy provider of the US Government, "The solar-to-electric conversion efficiency is averaging 20 percent."

Therefore, only 20 percent energy is yielded as electricity that can be used. If we were to do away with nonrenewable energies TODAY, we would not be able to make up the difference by the use of this energy form.

Solar also is dependent on the sun, and energy store generators are still in their infancy; currently highly unreliable at storing large amounts of electricity. So, if you were to have a hurricane or other natural disaster, your solar power would be rendered useless during the night or even on sub-par cloudy days, and equaling to a rather "inefficient" form of energy.

Wind Power (another one of the major renewable energies).

Despite the great usage of wind energy in Denmark, there has been increasing in its usage; however, there has been no reduction in conventional power plants. (Source: Rosenbloom, "The Use of Wind Energy").

-This was due to the undefined and rather erratic wind conditions; which could go from 40mph to an almost dead 2mph within minutes.
-Also, since they are unpredictable, it MUST be noted that they had no other choice but to keep their reliance on nonrenewable energies like power plants.

They also consume great amounts of land: "wind farms consume up to 200 times as much land as gas-fired plants" (source: Independence Institute).

With irregular weather/wind conditions permitting, and a high intake of land consumption, wind energy has proven to be very inefficient, as well as costly to the banks and our environment!


Despite the negatives to the environment that nonrenewables have been branded with, as well as the undeniable fact that they are "nonrenewable" and will eventually run out, our current global infrastructure that is dependent on them cannot survive solely on the use of the renewable energy resources, which have been proven to be unreliable and inefficient.


First of all, I would like to thank the instigator for bringing the topic into a debate. I think that this is a very worthwhile and important topic.

I will argue that not only are we vastly under using the renewable resources that are provided by the Earth, but also that we do currently have the technology to rely fully on renewable resources while using the amount of energy that we currently consume on an annual basis.

To respond to my peer's argument I must point out that it was faulty in that s/he merely provided statistics stating how much of the energy we currently use comes from non-renewable resources and how little we currently gain from renewable resources. This says nothing about the potential of renewable resources. The fact that we do not currently take full advantage of the renewable resources we have is not synonymous with the idea that there are not enough renewable energy sources or enough energy in those resources to completely rely on them in our current global infrastructure.

We do, in fact have the technology to do this and as I will prove, the earth does in fact generate enough energy for us to power our way of life without sacrifice. My peer mentioned a few types of renewable energy sources, but failed to mention all of them. Here is a list of the renewable resources that we are currently using and have the technology to use on a much larger basis than we are (some of which the instigator already mentioned):

Wind Power

Solar Power

Tidal Power

Wave Power


Geothermal Power


I will eventually go through each of these energy sources and explain how much energy we can expect to gain from each source, but in this argument I will only discuss the first two: wind and solar energy.

Wind Energy: Wind energy has been around since 2000BC when it was first harvested in China. My peer doesn't seem very enthusiastic about wind energy, but I cannot understand why. In Spain wind energy can, at times, account for 45% of the energy used in the entire country. Modern turbines are able to produce about 15 times the amount of energy as they could in 1990 and the technology is only getting better. In fact, Google itself has recently spent over $5 billion just to install underwater transmission lines in order to connect offshore wind farms with just under 2 million homes along the east coast. Most exciting of all, Harvard University recently completed a study stating that with our current technology the U.S. has the ability to harvest at least 40 times the amount of energy that we use in a single year through wind energy alone. Not only that, but in 2007 the U.S. Department of Energy stated that "if wind was fully harvested in just three of America's fifty states it could power the entire nation." ("Zeitgeist Addendum" By Peter Joseph

The fact that we can harvest this energy in remote areas, especially for countries such as Canada, Russia and China, and install underground connections to carry that energy anywhere in the world means that many countries will be able to be powered by this sole resource alone without having to worry about the amount of space they are using. This is also a very good possibility for states such as Montana, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan's northern peninsula (with underwater lines running to the main state), northern California with lines running to the south, Nevada, New Mexico, etc. We also have the ability to store and trade extra energy, which means that while the wind isn't producing we can continue to use the power before turning to another energy source or that a company in Washington can use extra wind energy that is not currently needed in California. However, as the population increases we will want to think about the space this uses. Let's look at our next option.

Solar Energy: Before we even talk about the amount of energy we need on Earth let's think about the amount of energy given off by the sun. I'm not even going to put it into numbers because the people who would easily comprehend the numbers most likely don't need me, of all people, to spell it out for them. Instead, I will use a quote from the documentary "Zeigeist Addendum' by Peter Joseph. "The sun has such abundance that one hour of light at high noon contains more energy than what the entire world consumes in a year." If we could capture one one hundreth (1/100) of a percent (0.01%) of this energy the world would never have to use oil, gas or anything else. (The Zeigeist trilogy is available on Netflix, but I have also provided a link to a four minute video of it on Youtube.) This fact is also talked about by National Geographic in the link below.

If instead of placing hundreds of thousands of miles of oil pipelines we decided to place hundreds of miles of underground wires connected to energy storage units that drew their power from solar energy farms in the desert we would have a very cost effective way of lighting and heating our homes.

An alternative to this is having solar panels on rooftops. Because almost zero maintenance is needed and because the energy is free it does take several years for the panels to pay for themselves, but if a person lives in the same house for over ten years then the savings will be realized. Furthermore, this is actually commonplace for many of the houses and cabins in Alaska that are not as close to more populated areas. Remember that some areas in Alaska go months without having a sunrise, but because the sun reflects off the moon the solar panels still capture the energy needed and there is enough to power the home.

With the technological advancements made in this field the long lasting batteries where the energy from these solar panels are stored can actually last up to five days, still powering the home(s) with the typical amount of energy they would need for that amount of time.

While I have only presented two out of seven types of renewable resources I have already shown that we no longer need non-renewable resources by presenting the following facts:

1. If wind energy in the U.S. was fully harvested we would have 40 times the amount of power we currently use.

2. If only three out of our fifty states fully harvested wind energy we would have enough power to power the entire U.S.

3. One hour of sunlight at noon contains more energy than what the entire world consumes in one year.

4. Solar panels can collect energy off of light relecting off the moon as well as through clouds on an overcast day.

5. The batteries that store solar energy are able to store up to five days' worth of power.

These are two of the weakest energy sources I will discuss in this debate, but we have already found enough energy to power the world.
Debate Round No. 1


RTN1994 forfeited this round.


I suppose this is already over. I'd like to thank everyone for reading and if you have not already, go ahead and watch the video I previously posted. It is very informative.
Debate Round No. 2


RTN1994 forfeited this round.


Thank you to my opponent for bringing up this topic. I hope everyone was able to learn something new.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by wildcard173 4 years ago
I just realized that I misplaced quotation marks in my first argument:

"The sun has such abundance that one hour of light at high noon contains more energy than what the entire world consumes in a year." If we could capture one one hundreth (1/100) of a percent (0.01%) of this energy the world would never have to use oil, gas or anything else.

The end quotation should have been after "...oil, gas or anything else."
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Derek.Gunn 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Had much more solid arguments based on a more complete picture of the world.
Vote Placed by Typhlochactas 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: FF