The truth about alternative fuel sources

Chances are, you’ve heard arguments that oil and gas will soon be a thing of the past; that alternative energy sources are just around the corner. While Delta looks forward to a more environmentally friendly source of everyday fuel for heating and automotive transportation (not to mention the financial opportunities such changes will represent), the fact is that alternatives to oil and gas are still decades away from being viable. Currently they represent only 7% of total energy consumption. While their use has been growing, the worldwide use of oil and natural gas have also continued to grow. Almost every human activity and manufactured product is still directly tied to hydrocarbon production.

As this chart from the US Energy Information Administration shows, alternative energy demand, while increasing, is not leaping ahead of the demand for natural gas or even coal. Source: EIA

Driven by concerns about the environment and supply issues related to use of oil and natural gas, people are looking at alternative sources of energy. Government initiatives and the potential for investment returns have contributed to efforts to produce hybrid and electric vehicles and attempts to develop reliable and safe hydrogen fuel cells. In addition, solar and wind power are being utilized on a small scale.

None of these alternatives have yet to become viable in a commercial or practical sense for large scale use.

Delta shares the concern we face regarding the need for sustainable energy solutions. We strive to produce oil and gas in a profitable way to meet our obligation to our shareholders, while applying the highest possible environmental and safety standards. We are committed to being a responsible producer of these resources.

What are the choices?

Wind and solar power require specific environmental conditions. They also require vast amounts of land and come with other issues that are still being resolved, including their impact on wildlife.

Electric vehicles need batteries to operate. Batteries require power from other sources for charging and create enormous environmental problems when disposed of.

Despite many years of intense development research, the hydrogen fuel cell is still plagued by safety issues.

Methane gas, produced either by decaying marsh plants on the ground or below the seabed or by chemical biogas generators, cannot provide the demand required in the USA.

The US government is attempting to accelerate the use of alternative fuel sources for automobiles through consumer rebates and other initiatives. Still, these will take years to gain awareness and acceptance, and may not achieve desired goal. Oil and natural gas will continue to be the dominant forms of energy for many years to come.