Throughout the century, fossil fuel has been responsible for economic growth in many countries. For example, it has driven economic growth in industrial Britain, the dominant American economy, and the emerging Chinese manufacturing sector (Conserve-Energy-Future 2015).
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Owing to its tremendous potential in fuelling economic growth, in the past, researchers have linked energy use to development (Union of Concerned Scientists 2015). Often, they have shown that the higher the demand for fossil fuels, the higher the rate of economic development (Conserve-Energy-Future 2015).
This correlation mainly explains why many emerging economies today have a high demand for energy (Gattuso 2014). While this relationship is still true, today, there is a global trend to minimise the use of fossil fuel because of ecological concerns (Jupe & Michiorri 2007).
Scientists have often associated environmental degradation, pollution, and climate change to fossil fuel use (Conserve-Energy-Future 2015). Alternative sources of energy include nuclear energy, solar energy, wind energy, and geothermal energy (Bishop & Amaratunga 2008).
Since the discovery of the effects of fossil fuels on the environment, there has been a global push to use cleaner sources of energy (Klaus 2012). This push has permeated through many aspects of our social, political and economic spaces.
For example, there has been a greater push among automobile makers to develop hybrid and electric cars to minimise the reliance on fossil fuel (Jupe & Michiorri 2007). Other economic sectors have explored the use of solar, wind, nuclear, and geothermal energy to power different economic sectors (Gattuso 2014).
Environmentalists have also advanced hydrogen and bio-fuels as alternative sources of energy (Gattuso 2014; Tsuneo 2001). However, not all these alternative sources of energy are safe. Economies have adopted most of them selectively.
For example, some countries have not adopted nuclear power because of the safety concerns associated with radioactive exposures (Wuestenhagen & Buerer 2007). However, many economies know the unexplored possibilities of these alternative sources of energy (Bollen 2009; Christopher & Klaus 2011).
Therefore, there is an unclear understanding of the alternative uses of alternative energy in the world. Part of this confusion stems from a clear lack of understanding regarding the impact of existing and future energy sources on businesses and the world economy (Wyman 2007).
This paper proposes a study to fill this research gap by highlighting the factors that are responsible for the threats of dependency on conventional energy sources. In the same breadth of analysis, the proposed study would demonstrate how alternative energy sources could shape the future of business and secure our energy future.
However, to have a proper understanding of this subject matter, it is important to adopt a context-specific understanding of this study. Based on this need, this paper finds out how the United Arab Emirates and China plan to use alternative energy sources to secure the future of their development.
By choosing these two countries, I aim to evaluate their involvement in the global production and demand for fossil fuels (the UAE is among the world’s greatest producers of fossil fuel, while China is among the world’s greatest consumer of fossil fuel) (China Daily 2005).
Nonetheless, before delving into further details about this analysis, it is, first, important to state the research aim and objectives of the proposed study.
Research Aim: To identify the factors which are responsible for the threats of dependency on conventional energy sources
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Research Objective: To demonstrate how the development of alternative energy sources could overcome the rising cost of energy by securing future energy needs and shaping the business in a new dimension
Purpose of the Study
The findings of the proposed study would expound on the existing insights regarding how to overcome the energy crisis in the world. This information would also be useful in understanding how the adoption of alternative energy would shape different aspects of social, economic, and political growth.
Lastly, the findings of this paper would add to the growing body of knowledge about sustainable development, especially in emerging economies.
What is Alternative Energy?
Alternative energy is a general term used to refer to non-oil energy sources, such as wind, solar, and nuclear energy (Sillitoe 2014). Their main aim of using these alternative sources of fuel is to address some of the ecological, social and economic concerns of using fossil fuels (Sillitoe 2014).
The concept of “alternative energy” is controversial because people have used its different goals to come up with varying definitions of the concept (Conserve-Energy-Future 2015).
However, generally, researchers use alternative energy to denote energy sources that do not have the same consequences as fossil fuel (Conserve-Energy-Future 2015).
Why adopt Renewable Energy?
The need for using alternative sources of energy to drive economic activities emerged in the 1970s, through the works of Amory Lovins, a socioeconomic researcher (Brebbia & Beriatos 2011). He proposed the need for seeking energy savings as a way of solving the energy crisis (Brebbia & Beriatos 2011).
This response should shift people’s attention from using nuclear energy as an alternative source of energy. Here, researchers propose that using modern technologies in the energy sector would improve the productivity and efficiency of existing energy sources (The Scottish Government 2006).
Hidden subsidies and pervasive investments were some alternative energy sources that would encourage the adoption of modern technological methods in the energy sector (Bravo & Landaveri 2008).
Some researchers highlighted the need to have a widespread policy framework that would allow different economies to embrace modern technologies (Bravo & Landaveri 2008).
For example, throughout the 1990s, researchers highlighted the need to have an integrated and consistent policy framework to allow all stakeholders in the energy sector to benefit from adopting alternative energy sources (Bravo & Landaveri 2008).
Contrary to popular opinion, researchers have said that the demand for oil and conventional energy would decline (Conserve-Energy-Future 2015).
Although current statistics show that the demand for energy continues to rise (especially in emerging markets), a senior researcher at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, says the demand for conventional energy would decline in the next decade (Gattuso 2014).
Behind this assertion is the logic that the price for conventional energy sources would increase and peak in the next decade (Gattuso 2014). When it will be too expensive for people to pay for these exorbitant costs, there will be an increased push to look for alternative energy sources, thereby decreasing the cost of energy.
The energy sector will reach equilibrium. Therefore, while alternative energy sources are still expensive to produce, increased investments in the sustainable energy sector would reduce the cost of production, thereby decreasing the cost of sustainable energy and increase the demand for renewable energy.
Environmental Effects of Conventional Energy
For many years, researchers have often claimed that conventional energy sources have negative environmental effects (Conserve-Energy-Future 2015). Although some pessimists disagree with this view, scientific studies reveal that conventional energy has a negative effect of the environment (Conserve-Energy-Future 2015).
Particularly, researchers have drawn our attention to the negative effects of greenhouse gases (produced from burning fossil fuels) on the environment (Conserve-Energy-Future 2015).
For example, Brent and Kruger (2009) say conventional energy produces radioactive elements, such as uranium and thorium in the environment, thereby endangering human and aquatic life. These harmful chemical elements later fall to earth as acid raid.
In the US, more than 90% of the greenhouse gases produced come from using fossil fuels in houses and for fuelling cars (Burney & Lobell 2010). In the UAE, the trend to adopt sustainable energy is also ongoing.
For example, recently, the UAE government committed to a 7% renewable energy target for reducing the country’s energy dependence on fossil fuels by 2020 (UAE Ministry of Economy 2015).
In line with the government’s vision of reducing its dependence on fossil fuel, the UAE government introduced the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) to spearhead the adoption of alternative energy (UAE Ministry of Economy 2015).
The UAE vs. China
Unlike China, the UAE has branded itself as a progressive economy that aims to adopt global best practices in its energy sector. This is why the country has adopted many western practices in many aspects of its social and economic spaces (Burney & Lobell 2010).
However, China has a different political system that does not accommodate western political and social ideals (China Daily 2004). Its commitment to adopt “green practices” varies in the same regard. The UAE is also an energy producer, while China is a heavy energy consumer.
Research shows that China is becoming increasingly reliant on oil to drive its rapid economic growth (China Daily 2004). Furthermore, the Asian economy is among the biggest pollutants in the world, based on its greenhouse gas emissions (China Daily 2004).
In fact, global estimates show that China’s per capita carbon emissions surpass those of the EU and the US (Beijing Portal 2004). In this regard, correctly, we could say that China is the biggest polluter in the world. United States, India, Russia, and Japan closely follow China in this regard.
In detail, out of the 36 billion tonnes of carbon produced in the world, in 2013, China had the greatest share of 29%, while, the US had a share of 15% (McGrath 2014). The European Union (EU) had a share of 10%, while India contributed 7.1% of the total global carbon emissions (McGrath 2014).
Although the UAE is an oil producer, its carbon emissions are relatively lower than China. These differences show that both countries would have different motivations for embracing sustainable development.
Researchers have often promoted the use of alternative energy sources through the sustainable development model (The Scottish Government 2006).
There is no common definition of this model. However, academic and policy literatures within the last decade, after the World Commission on Environment and Development, 1985, have mainly focused on understanding the key principles and concepts underlying sustainable development (UAE Ministry of Economy 2015).
Most of these activities have decreased in the last couple of years. Those that still focus on the concept are mainly preoccupied with one of its aspects, as opposed to the general understanding of the concept (The Scottish Government 2006).
Nonetheless, researchers agree that two key concepts underlie the concept – strong sustainability and weak sustainability (The Scottish Government 2006). Strong sustainability accepts the non-ecospheric capital model that allows economies to deplete natural resources, but protects the environment (The Scottish Government 2006).
The weak sustainability concept argues that human capital could easily substitute natural resources. Through this philosophy, proponents of the model believe that human beings could use natural resources, as they wished, so long as they did not pass a minimum threshold (The Scottish Government 2006).
Many theorists agree that the sustainable development concept, which promotes the use of alternative energy, has largely developed from the latter model (The Scottish Government 2006).
Many western academics and policymakers have agreed to abide by the overarching principles of the sustainability model to guide their future developments because they subscribe to its overarching moral and practical intentions (Brebbia & Beriatos 2011).
Sustainable Development in the UAE and China
The UAE has made considerable steps in reducing its reliance on conventional energy by adopting alternative energy sources to power its industries. From a policy perspective, the country has introduced new agencies to oversee the adoption of sustainable development in the country.
For example, the UAE government recently founded the International Renewable Energy Agency (IREA) to oversee sustainable development projects in the country (UAE Ministry of Economy 2015). This agency has made significant strides in promoting the use of alternative energy in the country.
For example, Masdar City (a sustainable city) has been a flagship project of the agency (UAE Ministry of Economy 2015).
Through such projects, the IREA strives to promote renewable energy use, promote knowledge sharing, and promote the development of regulatory frameworks to guide sustainable development (UAE Ministry of Economy 2015).
Unlike other countries in the world that promote sustainable development, the UAE has taken a leadership role in teaching the rest of the world about the benefits of using alternative sources of energy.
For example, through its Masdar initiative, the country has demonstrated to the world that it is possible to build a zero-waste city that uses renewable energy only (UAE Ministry of Economy 2015). So far, it has succeeded in being a leader in the Middle East.
How Using Alternative Energy Could Change the Business Landscape
The business sector is among the largest users of fossil fuels. A departure from the reliance on conventional energy would change the business landscape by affecting the cost of adoption, changing the technological requirements for energy production, and promoting energy security (Mohamed 2006).
From a security standpoint, renewable energy would eliminate energy insecurities that characterise the business environment. For example, the aviation sector often grapples with the problem of high fuel cost, which contributes to the biggest proportion of their total costs (Mohamed 2006).
Through the adoption of alternative energy, the airline companies would reduce the need for imported fuels. Researchers have also drawn our attention to the increase of price instability in the business sector through the adoption of renewable energy (Mohamed 2006).
For example, Green-e (2015) says that price instabilities in the business sector emerge from fuel and transportation costs. Using alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power would eliminate these instabilities by eliminating these costs.
This way, utilities would not include such costs into their retail electricity prices, thereby offering relief to customers and businesses alike. Nationally, researchers have stated that the use of alternative energy would help to conserve a nation’s natural resources (Mohamed 2006).
Studies conducted by the US Department of Energy show that if the countries were to increase its dependence on alternative energy sources by 10%, consumers would realise an increased savings from reduced power and gas costs (Mohamed 2006).
Researchers estimate that this increase would increase from $22.6 billion to $37.7 billion (Mohamed 2006). Within a wider spectrum of economic development, researchers also estimate that there will be more jobs created from the use of alternative energy (Union of Concerned Scientists 2015).
Statistics from the US show that 91,220 jobs would emerge from a 10% increase in the use of alternative energy sources in the country (Union of Concerned Scientists 2015). Economic development would further increase through an injection of $42.5 billion in new capital (Union of Concerned Scientists 2015).
From an ecological standpoint, environmentalists say the adoption of alternative energy would create a healthier environment through a reduction in global warming and pollution (Union of Concerned Scientists 2015).
Comprehensively, researchers agree that using alternative energy sources minimise global warming emissions, improve public health and environmental quality, offer a vast and inexhaustible energy supply, create jobs and other economic benefits, stabilise energy prices, and offer a more reliable and resilient energy system (Union of Concerned Scientists 2015).
The aim of the proposed study is to identify the factors that are responsible for the threats of dependency on conventional energy sources. To do so, this paper proposes the use of a quantitative research design.
The main motivation for choosing the quantitative research approach is its ability to use measurable metrics to demonstrate the bigger picture of the research problem (Gravetter & Forzano 2015). This advantage is useful to the researcher because it would improve objectivity when collecting the research information.
The main weakness of this research approach is its failure to measure things in a natural setting. Moreover, it is incapable of understanding the meanings of different research variables, as would be the case in qualitative research studies.
The proposed research will have a descriptive research design. This design seeks to explain the current situation surrounding the conventional energy use and the potential issues surrounding the use of alternative energy sources. The main aim of using this research design is to provide systematic information about the above-mentioned issues.
Usually, researchers who use this research design do not formulate a hypothesis, until the end of the research process (Baltimore County Public Schools 2010). I would do so in the proposed study.
The main aim of doing so would be to allow an independent analysis and test of the research variables to understand the true measure of the proposed hypothesis. The main weakness of this research design is the possibility of error and subjectivity (Baltimore County Public Schools 2010).
For example, when looking for information, it is easy for the researcher to look for predetermined and prescriptive answers. Furthermore, since this paper proposes the use of secondary information, it is easy to transfer the errors of previous researches to the present research (Baltimore County Public Schools 2010).
The proposed study would gather data from secondary sources of literature. However, there will be an emphasis to get information from credible sources of information only, such as books, journals, and credible websites.
The main reason for choosing this data collection method is its ability to obtain information regarding two geographic regions, thereby eliminating the need to travel across different countries to obtain data (Mitchell & Jolley 2012).
The possible low quality of research methods used to come up with the secondary information is the main weakness of using the secondary research data. Indeed, it is possible for the researcher to control the variables of study in primary research.
However, it is impossible to do so in secondary research, thereby making it difficult to control the quality of research in such studies (Mitchell & Jolley 2012). Similarly, another weakness of using this data collection method is the collection of research information that is not specific to the needs of this study.
For example, this paper mainly focuses on the use of alternative energy in the UAE and China. We may encounter information that does not fit these two countries. Therefore, the secondary research information obtained may not be suited specifically to meet the needs of the proposed study.
Since the proposed study will have a descriptive research design, the proposed data analysis method is descriptive statistics. This data analysis method would highlight the main features of the data.
To come up with accurate findings, I will use different data analysis techniques, including frequency distribution methods, central tendency and dispersion methods. To measure the central tendency of the data, I will use the mean, median and mode.
I will also use the range and standard of deviation metrics to come up with the basic measures of dispersion that would similarly allow us to learn more about the data. The main disadvantage of using this data analysis method is its limited analytical prowess (Matthews & Kostelis 2011).
In this regard, it would only summarise the data, but fail to explain important details that would allow us to learn about the sample. This fact means that descriptive statistics do not depend on the probability theory.
However, regardless of their descriptive nature, subsequent sections of the paper would use alternative theories to interpret the research data.
Limitations of the Study
Limitations of study usually denote characteristics of the proposed paper that would affect the interpretation and analysis of the findings (University of Southern California 2015). This proposal already shows that the proposed study would be specific to two countries – the UAE and China.
Therefore, the economic, social, and political dynamics of both countries that affect the adoption of alternative sources of energy would limit the study. Lastly, since this paper mainly focuses on the uses of alternative sources of energy, the findings of the study would also be limited in the same context.
|Collection of Research Materials|
|Sorting Research Materials|
|Analysing research content|
|Presenting research Content|
|March, 2015||April 2015||May, 2015 – June, 2015||June, 2015|
Since this paper will mainly rely on secondary information, copyright concerns will be the main ethical concern for this paper (Alain & George 2012). To avoid this ethical pitfall, I will acknowledge the original authors of the reports used using correct citation.
Different countries have adopted the sustainable energy model trend differently. Throughout the world, the Middle East has adopted this trend with much vigour than other developing countries.
To get a clearer understanding of this fact, this paper focuses on understanding sustainable development in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE is a leader in the adoption of sustainable development in the Arab world. Outside the Middle East, this paper focuses on China and evaluates how it compares to the UAE.
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