There is an increased demand for institutional and domestic energy in the United States. The United States of America currently heavily rely on oil, natural gas and coal as sources of its energy. However, no perfect energy form exists today. Fossil-fuels are plenty but dirty, wind and solar are intermittent but clean and geothermal though difficult to extract, are economical once running. Hence technologies evolve as creative-partnerships that make maximum use of energy potential whilst not favoring its short fall also emerge. Furthermore, renewable-energy industries also continuously develop the ability to relate with each-other whilst establishing relationships with different energy forms. However, research shows that renewable energy is more expensive than other sources of energy, resulting in policies and decisions that are cost driven thus avoid renewable-energy. Socolow advises that, “to meet future energy demand, there is a need for the United States to establish effective renewable resource policy”.
Types of Renewable Energy Resources
There is a number of types of renewable energy resources namely wind energy, solar energy, geothermal energy, bio-fuels,ocean energy, wave power,hydropower andtidal power. As stated by Inslee and Hendricks, “Nearly all renewable energy resources come either indirectly or directly from the sun”. Most of these renewable energy resources are continuously being replenished and so will never run out.
How Renewable Resources are Working
Renewable energy resource type for instance; solar, wind, geothermal, bio-fuels and ocean energy can be developed profitably.
Solar energy comes either indirectly or directly from the sun. It can be directly used for lighting and heating homes as well as other building, solar cooling, generating electricity, hot-water heating and for a range of industrial and commercial uses.
The wind is driven by heat from the sun and its energy confined by wind turbines. After that, heat from both the sun and the wind causes evaporation of water. Hydro electric power is used to capture energy from the water vapor can when it turns into snow or rain and flows down the hill into streams or rivers.
Geothermal energy is tapped from the internal heat of the Earth. It has a range of uses, including heating and cooling of buildings as well as production of electric power. Geothermal power is also used to boost battery of electric vehicles to take off. However, the market goes on with the search for new, higher quality and innovative materials to increase quality and efficiency of battery performance.
Sunlight aids in growth and development of plants along with snow and rain. Biomass is the organic matter which makes up plants. Bio-energy is produced from biomass which is used for electricity production and to transport chemicals or fuels.
Most organic compounds are made up of hydrogen. For instance, water is made of a combination of hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen can be converted into electricity or burned as fuel once it has been separated from other compounds or elements.
Ocean energy comes from many sources. To begin with, ocean tide energy results from the gravitational pull of the sun and the moon upon the earth. “In addition to tidal energy, ocean’s wave energy is driven by the wind and the tides”. Moreover, the sun warms ocean’s surface faster than ocean depths thus, creating a difference in temperature which can be used as a source of energy. Electricity can be produced from all these types of ocean energy.
Renewable Resources Policy and Modern U.S Policy
The significant progress has been noted in the development of renewable-energy policy in the US since 2000 especially at the state-level. There are 26 states currently with compulsory renewable portfolio standards (RPS) in the US and other 6 states have created renewable-energy goals which are non-binding. Though it is anticipated that RPS-policies would require renewable resources more than 60 giga watts by 2025, this will cater for only 15% of the estimated growth of electricity demand in that-year. Although these gains are impressive by the standards of today, they are modest compared to the renewable-energy-job-creation, climate protection and renewable energy market growth scenario recommended by industry organizations and experts in the past-few-years. Renewable energy payments have been adopted by many European-Union countries and this policy is spreading worldwide. “There has been heated debate as to whether REP based on RECs (tradable-renewable-energy-credits) is more capable of promoting renewable-energy”.
Renewable energy-technologies are important because of the numerous benefits that they offer. First, renewable resources are clean energy sources and have reduced environmental impact than conventional energy-technologies. Secondly, renewable-energy will never run out. Thirdly, most investments on renewable energy are spent on workmanship and materials but not on energy imports that are expensive. Thus, the investment is mostly used to fuel the local-economy and create jobs. Lastly, renewable-energy technologies built and developed in the U.S are sold oversees thus boosting its trade deficit. Policy makers in the US are looking for alternatives to speed up the renewable-energy market-growth so as to meet aggressively increasing economic and environmental development goals. Renewable-energy-payments (REP) are one of the emerging policy-mechanisms put into consideration.
How Modern U.S Policy is Related to the Fossil Fuel
Fossil fuels such as petroleum, natural gas and coal are non renewable sources of energy. They are drawn on limited resources that would decrease in the long run, thus becoming too environmentally damaging or too expensive to retrieve. As stated by Stern, “Fossil fuels take thousands-of-years to form naturally and are consumed faster than they can be replaced”. In the end, such natural resources would become too expensive to harvest. Therefore, there is a necessity for Americans to find the alternative energy sources, though non renewable fossil fuels are still in high demand as the main sources of energy in the United States since the 17th century. Presently, modern US policy such as federal energy regulations and laws, as is evident in the 2005 Energy Policy Act, fail to effectively encourage the use of alternative energy, thus failing to deal with problems resulting from the U.S. overwhelming reliance on fossil fuel.
Solar Power as a Solution for Future Energy
Solar energy is the most predictable renewable energy resource known on Earth and will be there for more than a billion years to come since the sun will always be available. For this reason, solar-energy technologies make the use of light and energy from the sun to provide light, electricity, heat, hot water as well as cooling for industry, businesses and homes. Solar energy is used by a number of technologies which include: (a)Photovoltaic Systems – electricity is produced directly from the sun (b) solar hot-water – solar energy is used to heat water (c) solar electricity – producing electricity by means of heat from the sun (d) passive day lighting and solar heating – lighting and heating buildings by use of solar energy (e) Solar-process space cooling and heating – commercial and industrial uses of the heat from the sun. Besides, solar is currently being combined with other renewable sources with an aim of providing the solution to the current and future increasing energy demand notably; wind and solar power, thermal and solar power as well as oil and solar power.
Wind and Solar Power
The use of the combination of wind and solar power has some benefits like the provision of a 24 hour power cycle since the wind is usually mainly reliable at night while the sun-shines most of the time during the day. This combination is evident at the Western Wind-Energy based in Kingman that uses five hundred kilowatt solar-PV-array and five Gamesa-wind-turbines. Storing both solar and wing energy is very difficult hence this is a proof that they are not reliable since they share the same intermittency problem, though they sometimes perform best at different times. In contrast, experts argue that photon radiation of solar energy can be converted into thermal or electricity energy using thermal panels or solar cells respectively while wind energy can be converted into electrical or mechanical energy which can easily be stored. Both indirect and direct solar energy forms at the same site have advantages that are known well by many people.
Thermal and Solar Power
A combination of geothermal and solar power would result into solar contributing to geothermal capacity while at the same time it could sort out the problem of worrying about geothermal resource predictability. In fact, solar power that has been produced would integrate into geothermal existing plant, thus allowing the plant to produce more power particularly during the peak energy periods. What is more, it would save a firm the operation and interconnection related cost.
Oil and Solar Power
Solar-thermal technologies are the most cost effective sources of fuel since they help in facilitating the heavy oil recovery. Most of the heavy oil reserves worldwide have limited access to fuel sources that are cost effective and this is the reason why most of them are located in high solar-resource areas. “The energy intensity related to heavy oil extraction is exceedingly high hence this process present a major challenge to fuel supply (like the natural gas) and to containing emissions”.