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Renewable Energy for Americaís Future
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by U. S. Department of Interior 12 the future of Energy


Energy is fundamental to Americaís quality of life, economic health and security. President Bush recognized the importance of a comprehensive energy policy to our countryís well being and put an early focus on developing a plan to provide a dependable, diverse supply of affordable and environmentally sound energy to meet current and future needs.

One way our energy supply can be increased and diversified is through the production of renewable energy. Renewable energy uses naturally replenished energy from the sun, wind, water, earthís heat and vegetation to produce the energy we need in our lives.

Renewable energy currently supplies 9% of our energy supply. If we exclude hydropower, renewable energy supplies only 2% of the nationís electricity needs. Nonetheless, the growth in renewable energy generation over the past decade has been impressiveó approximately 30% since 1990. This trend for non-hydropower renewable energy generation is expected to continue, both at home and abroad. Alternatively, the growth in hydropower has slowed over the last several decades. Today, hydropower contributes almost 95,000MW of generating capacity in the United States and over 14,700MW of that capacity is owned and operated by Interiorís Bureau of Reclamation.

Today, Interiorís public lands produce 17 percent of the nationís hydropowerówhich is virtually 100 percent of all residential electricity use in the state of Washington, or 27% of all West Coast residential electricity use. The public lands produce approximately 10 percent of all domestic wind energy and 48 percent of our nationís geothermal power.

Renewable energy has inherent advantages: it is typically clean energy that does not produce greenhouse gases. Renewable resources occur naturally and abundantly. Electricity from renewable sources provides long-term pricing stability in what has been a volatile electricity market. And, in addition to providing power for remote areas far from power lines, the development of renewable energy can create jobs and revenue for rural communities.

There are also a number of barriers to the development of renewable energy. One is reliability. Wind and solar energy depend on the weather and therefore are not 100 percent reliable. Renewable energy also faces some of the same environmental challenges as fossil fuel development. Wind and geothermal projects throughout the United States face opposition over potential impacts to wildlife, view-sheds, and sacred sites. Probably the biggest barrier to renewable energy development is lack of available and affordable transmission capacity to deliver the energy to the customer.


The Department of Interior is playing a major role in achieving the Presidentís renewable energy goals, and is moving aggressively to implement the recommendations of the National Energy Policy. Interior has developed and is implementing new policies to promote increasdevelopment of wind, geothermal, solabiomass energy resources on the public lands. A significant part of this effort involves removinadministrative and other process barriers to reducepermitting backlogs while providing careful oversight to ensure these energy resources ardeveloped in full compliance with existing laand regulations and in an environmentally sound and economically feasible manner.

Working with other Federal Departments, State and local governments, Tribes, and local ommunities, the Department is applying innovative approaches to achieve an increase of renewable energy production, primarily on Interior-managed western lands.

Additionally, the Department promotes energy conservation and uses renewable energy resources in an incresing number of Department facilities throughout the country. It is estimated that over 400 Interior facilities- office buildings, campgrounds, weather and fire monitoring stations and traffic signsare powered by wind and solar energy. The Department spent $26 million for facility energy improvements in 2003 and conserved 32 percent more energy than it did in 1983. In 2003, the Department also purchased 923 watts of electricity from renewable sources, enough to provide 5 percent of the power for the Main Interior building in Washington, DC. (The Main Interior Building houses over 2000 people.)

Although renewable energy resources comprise only a small percentage of the nationís ppendices eothermal Leasing Statistics, Existing Leases strative State le Energy Programs total energy portfolio, they are a rapidly growing energy source and can provide a brightpicture for Americaís energy future.



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Visit also the conference about 'the future of Energy - the Hydrogen Economy?' and the sections with books, articles and links.

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