Energy has become an increasingly large problem within the United States. Although the US is by far the world’s leading energy producer, it is also the world’s leading energy consumer by an even wider margin. The United States presently accounts for about 17% of the world’s total annual energy production and about 23% of the world’s total annual energy consumption. This then, accounts for the major problem we are currently facing, most simply put as – we’re using too much energy. Big energy consuming industries such as fuel, electricity and coal need to start looking at alternatives such as renewable energy resources like solar, wind and water power. Whether or not this energy consumption problem can be solved, is a running debate between politicians, environmentalists, and the like. With careful planning and thinking toward the future, we would be able to conserve enough energy to fill the void between production and consumption. However, if these mechanisms aren’t established and implemented, the US will unfortunately continue on the current path of using more energy than we produce.
There are a few things that could be done to save energy in the US. One is to develop cost-effective, clean alternatives to gasoline. Clean-burning hydrogen has been discussed as an option. Another alternative is adding readily available ethanol to gasoline. Secondly we could modernize the electric power grid. Our demand for high-quality, reliable electricity becomes increasingly larger with the new digital age. Homes, hospitals and businesses rely on electricity, yet the grid we run on is inadequate and very fragile. In fact, accordingly the United States power grid is running on mostly 50 year old technology. Running today’s digital worlds on a half century old power grid put more pressure on the grid and it therefore not only has the potential to break, it also uses more energy that is necessary. Another large consumer of energy in the US is the coal industry. The United States has approximately 27% of the world’s coal reserves. This ranks first in the world by a very large margin. However, “The United States is the world’s second-greatest coal producer and consumer (each behind China), and accounts for about one-fifth of both the world’s total annual coal production and coal consumption.” Undoubtedly, the world economy will be dependent on coal for at least the next 200 years or longer. Again similarly to the fuel and electricity industry, there are major opportunities to transform the coal industry technologies. The Busch administration currently has a small program devoted to new combined cycle power plants with carbon sequestration, but it’s not big enough yet. “The global ramifications are very significant; in just five years, China has built 100 major coal-fired power plants, and dozens more are planned”. Expanding on renewable resources is one of the biggest areas for improvement. Essentially, a renewable resource is by far the best solution. Fundamentally, we make the energy, and then we use it. If we can’t make enough, then we don’t have enough and can never run into the problem of using more than we make. Wind, solar and water power are among some of the top leaders in the renewable resources industry. Countries like Germany, Denmark, Britain, Japan and China are all working in areas such as these to reduce their consumption of disposable energy.
Energy conservation has become a great concern within the United States. Until recently, nothing has been done to make a true effort toward preserving our energy resources. It will be essential for some of the biggest industry consumers of energy in the US like fuel, electricity of coal, to turn to alternatives and start utilizing the renewable energy resources available to us today. If the US does not soon start to look at alternative resources of energy, our energy deficit will continue to grow, and we will run into bigger problems in the future.
Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum. “An Energy Summary of the United States of America.” 26 Jan. 2006 <http://www.cslforum.org/usa.htm>.