Most industrial society denizens would like the benefits of cheap energy without any of its downsides. For example,uranium mining and processing has strong opposition almost anywhere it is proposed. For a rundown on this explore: www.wise-uranium.org/ Nuclear fusion has been held to be a magic solution, but that technology has been projected to be at least three decades from development for the past four decades.
Alternative fuel energy from biomass boilers has a number of potential drawbacks. One is use of cropland for growing fuel. That can be eliminated by producing fuel from sources such as algae farms, but the yield in usable energy from the energy expended to get it is seldom touted, and seldom calculated in a consistent way. Alternatives from biomass have an energy yield well below that of the first finds of petroleum gushers. How much cumulative energy is expended to obtain usable energy is a physical economic test. Without it, one can easily be fooled by burning “cheap” energy to obtain expensive energy, making a temporary profit, but making dismal return on joules of energy expended.
To get a long-term picture, one should evaluate energy projects by return on total energy. For example, can the energy to produce photovoltaic cells be produced from photovoltaic cells themselves, with plenty of power left over for other uses? If not, PV cells are not energy self-sufficient yet. Energy yield ratios can be improved either by using less energy to produce the cells, or making PV cells with higher direct solar conversion rates, or both. It is not impossible technically.
However, all the problems of a low-energy yield world can be ameliorated by devising ways to do what we need and enjoy life without wasting so much energy. In a low energy yield world, displaying that one commands “energy to burn” by wasting it is to be less a mark of status than an indicator of ignorance.