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From Fossil Fuels to Renewable Marvels: Is America Ready to Embrace the Renewable Energy Revolution?


Energy consumption is a critical component of modern society's operation, therefore knowing the sustainability of energy sources is critical. In this article, we will examine the United States' energy situation, including the quantity of energy necessary to run the country and the extent to which it relies on sustainable sources. To acquire insights into the country's energy usage and sources, we shall examine the information published by the Energy Information Administration, a legislative statistics department.

Energy Consumption: A Startling Perspective

A country the size of the United States consumes an incredible amount of energy.The country's energy usage is estimated to be over 100 quadrillion British Thermal Energy Units (Btu).To put this figure into context, it is the equivalent of burning almost 20 billion barrels of fuel. However, petroleum does not account for all of America's energy sources.


Petroleum: America's Dominant Energy Source

Out of the 20 billion barrels of petrol equivalent in energy consumed by the United States, approximately 37% comes from petroleum. This makes petroleum America's largest energy source. While petroleum plays a significant role in meeting the country's energy demands, there are efforts to diversify energy sources and rely more on sustainable options.


Natural Gas: A Significant Contributor

After petroleum, natural gas stands as the second-largest energy source in the United States, providing around 32% of the country's total energy consumption. The abundance of natural gas reserves in the United States has contributed to its prominent role in meeting energy needs.


Coal: Declining but Still Present

Coal, once a dominant energy source, now accounts for approximately 11% of the energy consumed in the United States. Although coal consumption has been declining, it still plays a role in the country's energy landscape.


Renewable Energy: An Increasing Share

The United States is gradually increasing its reliance on renewable energy sources. In 2019, about 11% of the nation's energy consumption came from renewable sources. While this represents progress, it pales in comparison to other countries such as Iceland, Norway, Brazil, and Canada, which have achieved higher percentages of renewable energy utilization.


America's Renewables vs. Other Countries

Iceland, with its impressive geothermal resources, produced nearly 80% of its energy from renewable sources in 2019. Norway achieved 66% reliance on renewables, while Brazil and Canada reached 45% and 27% respectively. These figures highlight the gap between the current state of renewable energy in the United States and its potential for growth.


Green Energy Progress during Trump's Administration

Contrary to expectations, the administration of former President Trump witnessed some improvements in renewable energy production. Several private and state projects were initiated, including the North Central Wind Station and Spotsylvania Solar Station. Despite certain policy decisions that faced environmental criticism, the United States continued to make progress in renewable energy development.


Understanding Biomass Energy

Of the renewable energy used in the United States, approximately 43% is derived from biomass energy. This includes the burning of sustainable wood, biofuels from sources like animal methane or corn ethanol, and the conversion of biomass waste into energy through controlled burning. While biomass energy is considered renewable, some argue that it is not the cleanest form of energy production due to the environmental impact associated with burning sustainable trees and crops.


The Truly Green Energy Sources

Approximately 57% of renewable energy in the United States comes from sources that produce minimal byproducts. Wind energy is the largest contributor, followed by hydroelectric power. Solar and geothermal energy also make smaller but notable contributions. Depending on the definition of renewable energy, the US used the equivalent of either 2.2 billion or just over 1.2 billion barrels of oil in renewable energy in 2019. Additionally, some experts consider nuclear energy to be relatively acceptable from an environmental standpoint, which would add another 1.6 billion barrel equivalents.


The Composition of Renewable Energy

Renewable energy consumption in the United States is spread across various sectors. Electric power accounts for the largest share, followed by transportation and industrial uses. Residential and commercial energy consumption falls significantly behind. These statistics highlight the importance of transitioning to sustainable energy sources across different sectors to achieve long-term sustainability.


The Growth of Renewable Energy

While the United States still has a long way to go, the use of renewable energy has been steadily increasing over the past decade. There are numerous plans and initiatives in place to further improve the situation. The administration of President Joe Biden has placed a strong focus on renewable energy, aligning with the public's growing desire for change. With immense potential for solar, wind, and geothermal energy, the United States could potentially rely entirely on renewable energy in the long term, possibly achieving this ambitious goal by around 2050.


Joe Biden's Commitment to Renewable Energy

The early policy changes made by President Joe Biden indicate a strong commitment to renewable energy. The cancellation of permits for the Keystone XL Pipeline project, which aimed to transport oil extracted from the Alberta oil sands in Canada, and the recommitment to the Paris Climate Change Agreement are clear signals of the administration's determination to set and achieve energy targets.


Potential for Renewable Energy

The United States possesses enormous potential for renewable energy development. A 2012 report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimated the annual potential energy production from renewable sources to be over one hundred times the country's total annual energy consumption at the time. This highlights the vast opportunities for the United States to harness renewable energy, provided changes are made in transportation, electricity generation, and industrial practices.


Policy Changes and Current Projects

The United States is witnessing significant developments in various sectors related to renewable energy. Companies like Tesla and Lucid are making strides in the electric vehicle market. Major wind farm projects, with investments totaling $16 billion, are underway in Texas, Wyoming, and off the coast of North Carolina. Additionally, smaller but impactful projects are also being pursued. The solar energy industry is experiencing rapid growth, with Nevada expected to see around $9 billion in investments in the coming decade. Projects such as the Pecan Prairie Solar Project in Texas, set to launch in 2022, will provide energy to thousands of homes. Although the United States may not lead globally in renewable energy, steady progress is being made, and the shift towards sustainable sources is becoming more evident.


The Importance of Renewable Energy

Regardless of one's stance on climate change, the concept of renewable energy holds inherent value. The term "renewable" itself implies that non-renewable energy sources will eventually run out. As entrepreneur Elon Musk famously stated, "If it's not renewable, it's going to run out at some point." Therefore, it becomes crucial for countries like the United States to transition to renewable energy sources in order to sustain energy consumption. The timeline for this switch and the prioritization of different energy sources are topics open for discussion and further exploration.



1. How much renewable energy does the United States currently use?

The United States used the equivalent of about 2 billion barrels of oil in renewable energy in 2019, depending on the definition of renewable energy.

2. What is the largest contributor to renewable energy in the US?

Wind energy is the largest contributor to renewable energy in the United States.


3. Is biomass energy considered a clean source of energy?

Biomass energy is renewable; however, it is not considered the cleanest form of energy production due to the environmental impact associated with burning sustainable trees and crops.


4. What is the potential for renewable energy in the US?

The United States has significant potential for renewable energy, with a 2012 report estimating that annual renewable energy production could exceed the country's total energy consumption by over a hundred times.

5. What policy changes has Joe Biden made to promote renewable energy?

President Joe Biden has made policy changes such as canceling permits for the Keystone XL Pipeline project and recommitting the US to the Paris Climate Change Agreement, demonstrating a commitment to renewable energy.

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