Energy Problems and Potential Solutions
The United States of America is the world’s largest consumer of fossil fuel energy and this poses challenges to the economy’s security as well as the security of the nation. The nation is heavily dependant on imported fossil fuel currently standing at a level of 60% of the consumed fuel. The problem is worsened by rising prices of energy, high reliance on imported fuel, declining production of fuel locally and weakening of the country’s currency (Appenzeller, 2011). The main cause of this problem is the decline of the two basic sources of energy-natural gas and petroleum. Petroleum provides 40% percent of the energy consumed locally and about 96% percent of energy used in the transport sector. On the other hand, natural gas offers 23% percent of the total energy used in the country. The problem is further worsened due to the fact that the local consumption of energy is ever rising and thus putting an extra burden on the nation, which has to further seek more imports of oil (Local Energy, 2010). Our current supply of energy is heavily dependant on exhaustible sources, which are mostly environmentally harmful because they can cause pollution. Fossil fuel, coal and nuclear energy sources are harmful to the fauna and flora due to their emissions and radiations. Additionally, these sources pose further environmental challenges in the form of climate change which is caused by greenhouse gases emitted from the burning of such fuel. The solution to these problems lies in the initiation of usage of clean sources of energy as well as reduction of fossil fuel consumption. However, the remedial path is also marred with problems such as high costs of initiation of clean energy projects.
Legal regulations, a shortage of skilled workforce, and complexities associated with capital access are the main problems that hinder the initiation and implementation of main clean energy projects such as wind energy. Research conducted by Deloitte revealed that renewable energy has financial difficulties. There is also a shortage of investments channeled to the renewable energy sector, perhaps because most banks are cautious in offering any form of credit that may finance such projects. The government has also offered very few incentives towards such projects because of budgetary problems (Daily News, 2010). The current budgetary deficits imply that it may be hard for the government to initiate any major projects in clean energy generation because of funds and this does not augur well because it is well known that the world’s sources of oil are ever declining and this finite resource may soon be in short supply considering that there are other rising economies such as Brazil, China and India which are expanding their consumption daily (Wald, 2008). Other alternative sources such as bio-fuel are welcomed with mixed reactions, and some people oppose the use bio-fuel because of the fear of food shortage which may arise from the competing demand of food and bio-fuel which is manufactured from food supplies such as wheat, corn and sugarcane. End user efficiency has not been fully maximized the development of hybrid vehicles and fuel efficient engines has not yet fully developed and thus retaining the demand at a high and ever increasing level. End user efficiency is low because most machines and systems that consume the energy are not efficient and thus causing wastage of energy (Local Energy, 2010). The improvement of efficiency in energy usage should lead to lower energy consumption and demand levels.
In order to combat these energy related problems there should be a clear road map that can best be put in place through legislation and proper policy formulation which will initiate renewable energy projects to generate cleaner energy. The cleaner energy sources will prevent environmental pollution, climate change and any other associated health hazards such as pollution. Additionally, these sources will help in reducing over-dependence on foreign sources of energy. Increasing energy independence should help the nation secure its economy and increase its security. Other potential measures that can help solve energy problems in the U.S. include the deployment of aggressive end user efficiency increase measures on electrical appliances and vehicles as well as any fuel powered engines. An increase in saving per annum of energy should drive the demand low. Since the transport industry consumes much of the fuel, sustainable fuel use measures should be aimed at reducing the sector’s consumption. His can be achieved through an increase of plug-in vehicles (pure electrics and hybrids) to about 90% percent of the newly manufactured motor vehicles by the year 2030. This should lead to a 42% of the all U.S fleet in that year. Another viable step would be to increase efficiency in fuel consumption of conventional vehicles from 31 miles per gallon to 45 miles per gallon in the year 2030.
The increase of alternative sources which are less environmentally harmful is also one of the best and basic ways of cutting down on fossil fuel need and dependence. All oil and coal electricity sources should be replaced by renewable sources of energy. The potential renewable sources that should be looked into include wind energy, solar energy, geothermal energy and bio-energy (Local Energy, 2010). The realization of the renewable energy projects is highly dependant on the availability of finances. In this line the government should be ready to offer incentives to any investors that may be willing to initiate such projects this should also include any financial institutions that will be willing to offer financial support to any investors that would wish to undertake such projects. The removal of the financial hurdles should also be followed by the implementation of legal structures that are not restrictive to any willing investment party. Concerns on the bio-fuel usage can be addressed by making sure that the bio-fuel generated from food sources is put to high end use where the value of its generation is highly superseded by the value of its usage. Alternatively, sources of bio-fuel that are not generated from food sources such as cotton seed should be encouraged to prevent fears of food shortages. Whilst, increasing clean sources of energy there should be a clear commitment in place not only to increase clean sources, but to also reduce the “unclean” sources of energy (Local Energy, 2010).
The U.S economy is highly dependant on foreign supply of fossil fuel and this is harmful to the security of the nation as well as to the security of the economy. This is worsened by the fact that the sources of this form of energy are finite and soon they may decline considerably. Therefore, the best solution is to increase generation of cleaner energy locally, as well as reduce “unclean energy” generation. However, there are various challenges such as finances and legal constraints that hamper investment in this field. The government should be the main solution in this case because it has the capacity to direct investment in the sector through favorable legislations, policies and economic incentives that will woo investors to the sector. Additionally, there should be an end user efficiency program to ensure the demand of energy does not escalate.
Appenzeller, T. (2011),. The end of cheap oil, retrieved on 21st February, 2011 from http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/end-cheap-oil/#page=2
Daily News (2010),. Renewable energy sector has financial problems, retrieved on 21st February, 2011 from http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=renewable-energy-sector-has-financial-problems-survey-says-2010-10-12
Local Energy (2010),. Bio-energy in the U.S.A; appropriate bio-energy development, retrieved on 21st February, 2011 from http://www.localenergy.org/research_usEnergyProblem.htm
Wald, L. M. (2008),. Mounting costs slow the push for clean coal, New York Times, retrieved on 21st February, 2011 from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/30/business/30coal.html