There’s been a lot of discussion of energy independence in the news recently. Let’s dive in and discuss!
What does it mean to be energy independent?
Modern society has rapidly evolved over the years and left many countries, including our own, with a powerful addiction to energy. In the United States, our energy comes from a variety of sources, including coal, gas, petroleum, nuclear, solar and wind, but by far the greatest amount comes from fossil fuels. These fuel sources are finite – once we use them, they’re gone forever – and are distributed across the globe.
America currently produces about 40% of the oil it consumes, but domestic oil production has been in decline for decades and the U.S. is increasingly looking to foreign sources to ensure our access to petroleum. Each year, we pay significant sums of money and export jobs to foreign companies and governments to supply our fuel for transportation, electricity, and warming needs. This means that our money doesn’t stay in our communities, can potentially support companies that take advantage of lax environmental regulations and workers abroad, and makes America dependent on other nations.
Although the U.S. does have fossil fuel deposits in the form of coal and natural gas, these resources are finite and domestic supplies could shrink even further depending on use trends and future environmental regulations. Failure to account and plan for this is a serious risk that our country needs to consider.
Americans depend on energy sources from other countries, and in order to become energy independent, we need to take a deep look at our energy usage and sources and switch it up.
How do we ensure America’s energy security?
Fortunately, harvesting alternative renewable sources of energy like solar and wind can go a long way in making America energy independent. Gas and utility prices are increasing, and economists foresee no reversal as access to conventional fuels becomes more difficult and costly. On the other hand, prices for solar and wind power have been dropping steadily as the industry has increasingly made more and more technology and process improvements.
Renewable resources cannot be depleted; once a system is connected to the grid, it will continue to produce power for over 25 years. In fact, there are solar fields in the US installed more than 40 years ago which are still producing power and helping contribute to our energy independence. Investing in more renewable resources will yield more jobs, cleaner air, and less dependence on the whims of foreign countries.
Ensuring the U.S.’s energy security presents a huge economic opportunity as well. According to a study by Mark Jacobson from Stanford University and Mark Delucchi from UC Davis, the cost of transitioning to a 100% clean energy economy is potentially a $100 trillion opportunity. The solar industry in particular has been growing substantially in the past 10 years. In fact, there are now more solar installers than there are coal miners employed in the state of Virginia.
Renewable energy sources will help reduce our dependence on foreign countries, thus helping to ease tensions with countries across the world. Energy independence is a lofty goal, one that we at Solar Gain are working towards, one solar system at a time.