How New Affordable Renewable Energy Sources Are Alleviating Concern About Sluggish Oil Prices
In recent months as the price of oil has plummeted, there has been panic in many investment circles. But what has gotten overlooked in all the hoopla is the building strength in renewable energy resources. Even as the hunt for new sources of fossil fuels becomes increasingly frenetic, renewable energy prices continue to drop into a range where one is now competitively priced with the other.
Here, we will explore why there is no need to panic about fluctuating oil prices. Rather, there is every reason to celebrate (as President Obama pointed out in his final State of the Union address) as the viability of renewable energy sources becomes ever stronger.
Meet the Future of Energy in These Renewable Resources
In addition to a handful of well-known renewable energy sources (i.e. solar), there is a whole host of newer renewable energy resources under development.
Some of the major contenders to replace our need for fossil fuels include these:
Current wind energy product is sufficient to provide power for approximately 19 million homes in the U.S. With the help of the IRS’s Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit, more turbines have been added to the growing network, with an eye towards harnessing much greater wind resources in the future.
Biomass, or ethanol-based energy, is gaining attention as a renewable energy source for cars. While not entirely eco-friendly (it still retains a minimal carbon footprint), the output of biomass energy is substantial. And happily, as the cost to operate vehicles decreases with more competitive renewable fuel options, the cost for insuring a car may soon decrease likewise.
Geothermal energy could also be called heat energy. Thus far, the U.S. alone has sufficient geothermal facilities to power approximately 6 million homes.
In 2015 alone the U.S. production capacity for geothermal fuel grew by 5 percent.
Hydroelectric energy, also called water power, is produced via running water through machinery. The action of the water running through a mechanical system generates energy. To date, 19 percent of the world’s power has been produced via hydroelectricity.
Our capacity to produce solar energy continues to expand. Solar sources now generate sufficient power to cover the energy needs of 4.6+ million households.
Thanks to the federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), an incentive provided by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to help householders fund solar upgrades, the overall cost of installing solar panels and features is just one-quarter of what it cost in 2006 for the same.
Federal, State and Local Renewable Power Programs
From the local up to the federal level, a number of powerhouse organizations and initiatives are in place to support the growth and expansion of renewable energy options.
Major players in this arena include the following:
– Federal Energy Management Program.
– Federal Environmental Protection Agency / AgStar Program.
– Federal Green Power Partnership.
– Federal Landfill Methane Outreach Program.
– State-specific Renewable Portfolio Standards.
– State-specific Public Benefits Funds.
– State-specific Interconnection Standards / Net Metering.
– State-specific Feed-In Tariffs.
The Future of Renewable Energy
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the country is poised to enjoy an era of the most vigorous growth in renewable energy sources still yet to come.
Even better, this growth will come with an ever-decreasing reliance on federal and state tax credits and subsidies, positioning the country to provide an estimated 80 percent of its power needs through renewable sources by 2050.
But the renewable energy industry is not without its challenges as well. From developing new production facilities to controlling for biomass pollution and competing for natural resources (such as corn/ethanol) required to create renewable energy, there are still many obstacles to be overcome before the 2050 vision can become a reality.
In summary, as renewable energy sources slowly become price-competitive with traditional fossil fuel-based energy sources, new hope for safeguarding the planet’s dwindling sustainability is emerging. The key is to create a culture of support for the continued growth and development of renewable power sources for all.