Is Renewable Energy Expensive

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Solar panels on a family farm in Grafton, Massachusetts power nearby homes and small businesses. (Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

Is Renewable Energy Expensive

According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, a majority of Americans (77%) said it is more important for the United States to develop alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power than for the United States to have more coal, oil. and more. fossil. It raises the following questions: How?

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As you might expect, the answer is complicated. The use of solar and wind energy has grown rapidly over the past decade, but as of 2018, these sources accounted for less than 4% of the total energy used in the United States (the most recent full year for which data is available.) Although they exist Most of the energy used in parts of the United States states comes from coal, oil and natural gas. In 2018, these “fossil fuels” provided about 80% of the country’s energy demand, down slightly from 84% a decade ago. Coal consumption has fallen in recent years, natural gas consumption has increased, and the share of oil in the country’s energy tap ranges from 35% to 40%.

According to federal data, the total amount of energy used in the United States in 2018 (from lighting and heating homes to cooking, fueling factories, driving cars and powering smartphones) was 101.2 trillion Btu in 2018, the most since data collection began . in 1949. level. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

(Btu, short for British Heat Unit, is often used in the energy industry as a common standard for measuring and comparing different types of energy, not to mention in the home improvement business. One Btu is the amount of energy required to heat sea level to 1 degree Fahrenheit (about 1 055 metric joules or the equivalent of the heat released by burning a typical wooden match).

America consumes a lot of energy. According to one estimate, it is second only to China. As public interest in climate change grows and energy policy becomes a key issue in this year’s political campaign, we provide a solid foundation for how the United States obtains and uses energy and how those trends have changed recently. I wanted information.

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This report is based primarily on data collected by the Energy Information Administration, a statistical division of the US Department of Energy. We also refer to the US Pew Research Center survey on American views on climate and energy policy. This survey involved 3,627 members of the American Trends Panel, an online survey panel recruited in October 2019 from a random sample of residential addresses across the country. Here are the questions and answers of this survey. Below is the research methodology.

About 38% of all BTUs flow to the energy industry (power companies and independent power producers), convert them into electricity and send them to the rest of the economy. Transport accounted for about 28% of total energy consumption, followed by the industrial sector (23%), households (7%) and commercial enterprises (5%).

Per capita energy consumption in the United States has been declining since the early 2000s, but increased in 2018. In 2000, Americans consumed an average of about 349.8 million Btu. In 2017, it fell to 305 million Btu, the lowest level in 50 years. However, in 2018, per capita energy consumption rose to 39.3 million Btu. (Per capita energy consumption peaked at 359 million Btu in 1979.)

In other words, the US economy has been steadily declining in energy intensity since the end of World War II. In 1949, it took 15,175 Btu to create one dollar of real gross domestic product (GDP). In 2018, there were 5,450, a decrease of 64%. However, the system still has many shortcomings. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory estimated that roughly two-thirds of all energy used in 2018 was wasted (such as heat from cars and furnaces). Only 34.5% of the energy consumed in the energy sector reaches the end user in the form of electricity, and the rest is lost in the process of energy production, transmission and distribution.

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Today, the United States meets almost all of its energy needs domestically. Net imports, primarily oil, accounted for less than 4% of total US energy supplies in 2018, down from 26% a decade earlier.

According to the EIA, the United States produced nearly 3.7 billion barrels of oil in the first 10 months of 2019, an increase of more than 2 billion barrels compared to the same period in 2009. In 2018 alone, oil accounted for nearly a quarter of all U.S. energy production. Natural gas, which accounted for about a third of total energy production in 2018, also rose from 21.7 trillion cubic feet in the first nine months of 2009 to 33.6 trillion cubic feet in the same period of 2019.

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Dramatic growth in domestic oil and gas production is fueled by new technologies, particularly fracking and horizontal drilling, that allow companies to access underground deposits that were previously prohibitively expensive. As a result, the United States overtook Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world’s largest oil and gas producer in 2018.

Coal, on the other hand, has fallen sharply since its peak in 2008, when nearly 1.2 billion tons were mined. Almost all US coal (about 93% in 2018, according to the EIA) is used to generate electricity. But according to a report by the Brookings Institution, demand for electricity in the United States has stagnated, natural gas prices have fallen as production has increased and government policy has until recently favored other energy sources such as wind and solar. Coal accounted for 16% of total domestic energy production in 2018, up from a decade ago. In January to September 2019, the production volume was 540 million tons, which is about a third of the same period in 2009.

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In the past decade, solar energy has grown by the largest percentage of any energy source in the United States. In 2008, solar power generated more than 2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity. Ten years later, sunlight produced more than 93 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, a nearly 46-fold increase. The growth of solar energy is both large (power plants) and small (rooftop solar panels). Overall, about two-thirds of all solar power was generated by electric companies, with most of the rest installed in homes and commercial buildings.

However, solar heat accounted for only 1% of the country’s total energy production in 2018. Hydropower was the largest source of renewable energy (2.8% of total generation), followed by wind, wood and biofuels.

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About the Pew Research Center The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan think tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes, and trends that are shaping the world. Conduct public opinion polls, demographic surveys, media content analysis, and other empirical social science research. The Pew Research Center does not take a political stance. It is a subsidiary of the Pew Charitable Trusts.

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More than 250 news channels around the world are working together to strengthen coverage of the climate story. This piece was originally published in August and has been slightly updated.

One of the hottest and most interesting debates in the energy world today is how far the United States can go with carbon-free renewable energy alone.

One faction believes that renewable energy can provide 100% of America’s energy through affordable energy storage and intelligent demand management.

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Another faction believes that renewable energy will eventually become scarce and will have to support nuclear power and natural gas or biomass through carbon capture and storage.

This war is mostly being waged behind the scenes at rival magazines, but it is very relevant to current events as many states and cities pass “100% clean energy” laws. Some states, such as Hawaii, are specifically targeting 100% renewable energy. Some, such as Washington State, aim to be 100% “clean” by leaving room for non-renewable resources.

At the heart of the debate is the simple fact that the two largest sources of renewable energy – wind and solar – are “variable”. They come and go according to the weather and time. They are not “deployable”. This means you can’t turn it on and off or move it up and down depending on the needs of the network. Does not fit to grid.

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