• Wade Ortel

Energy Independence and Renewables

Most cogent arguments for the adoption of renewable energy technology hinge on the far-reaching environmental benefits of such actions. However, demand side electrification coupled with an energy generation mix that heavily favors renewables would also be a boon for achieving energy independence and security for the United States.

With gasoline prices hitting record highs, the time to reassess our nation’s relationship with fossil fuels is now. While an increase in domestic oil and gas production might momentarily combat high prices, a lasting resolution must invariably involve a transition from energy derived from a finite supply of ancient organic matter to mix of various clean carbon-free technologies. The current geopolitical climate demonstrates the precarious nature of the petrochemical supply chain. The resulting volatile prices of fossil fuels and their derivative products present an opportunity to move toward a better future dominated by renewables. A wholehearted transition offers a means to break the United States’ dependence on other nations for energy. Such a transition would stabilize energy prices during times of international strife.

As a means by which the reliance on foreign energy sources can be reduced, the adoption of renewable technology must take a two-pronged approach. First, a significant increase in the capacity of grid-connected clean energy sources, such as wind, solar and hydro must be advanced. Second and equally critically, we must make strides toward the total electrification of our daily energy consumption.

Appliances such as oil-fired furnaces and internal combustion powered vehicles cannot be energy source agnostic. That is, their fuel source and therefore supply chain is deterministically set by their operating principles. There is no feasible method by which a gasoline fueled engine can run on energy produced by a wind turbine. On the other hand, devices capable of being powered by electricity offer significant flexibility in this regard. An electric car or heat pump can easily be powered by a grid that is dependent on a diverse mix of energy sources, both finite and renewable. This flexibility means that electrification can be pursued both independently and simultaneously to the adoption of renewables. Appliances, indeed, any device that demands energy, must transition to run on electricity both in an effort to ease humanity’s environmental impact as well as to buttress national security and energy independence.

The Solar Initiative is working to increase renewable energy production, while also helping consumers to electrify their energy footprint. This approach offers a way to combat climate change as well as a means to attain energy independence, personally and nationally.

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