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With the recent passage of the off shore wind legislation in Maryland, TerraLogos believes that questions on fracking for natural gas and the XL Keystone pipeline are in order. Does the US really need to secure fossil fuel resources that are potentially harmful, or is there a better way through the investment in renewable energy sources?

A recent article in the New York Times, “Life After Oil and Gas”, examines America’s potential switch to renewable energy and the challenges we face in doing so. In 2011 thirteen countries, including Spain and Canada, were able to generate at least 30% of their total national energy from renewable sources.  A team of Stanford engineers, led by Mark Z. Jacobson, determined that even New York State has the potential to produce enough energy from renewable sources that they could provide for building needs and still supplement transportation demands. Mr. Jacobson believes the challenges facing America’s conversion to renewable energy is not technical or economic, but social and political.

Image courtesy of: http://c21.phas.ubc.ca/article/wind-turbines-betz-law-explained

Countries like Norway are able to produce 97% of their energy requirements by utilizing hydroelectric power- mostly due to the country’s geographical features. Portugal has harnessed its windy coasts to produce nearly 30% of its power through wind (and another 17% is supplemented by hydroelectric plants). So why is the United States so far behind?

Alex Klein, the research director for IHS Emerging Energy Research, puts it simply: “An industrial economy needs a reliable power source- the sun doesn’t always shine, and the wind doesn’t always blow.” This means America will be reliant on fossil fuels as a supplement for industrial processes for the foreseeable future. But that doesn’t mean the United States is left out of the race to a renewable energy future.

The potential payback for renewable infrastructure might be as short as 20 years, and the XL Pipeline is currently under debate in Washington– America needs to decide: where do we invest next?

TerraLogos supports the move to renewable energy as rapidly as possible. Watch our blog for updates and trends toward the national goal of 30% renewable energy sources by 2030 for buildings and transportation.

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