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Requriments:Discuss current U.S. oil, gas crisis and need to reduce dependency and move to alternate energy. We should protect our fragile biosphere and the environment (with global warming) should be a national and international priority. Slow green house emissions, develop new technology, etc.
U.S. Environment & Energy Policy
If energy use is to be reduced by such significant amounts, one has to ask, "at what cost?" The answer depends on the cost of new energy supplies. Actions or investments to increase the efficiency of energy use are warranted if they save energy at unit costs less than new energy supplies. This criterion for measuring the energy-saving potential of the economy requires some estimates of the costs of new energy supplies, or, in terminology familiar to economists, the long-run marginal supply prices of oil, gas, coal, and electricity.
After the conservation-efficiency estimates are made, they are compared with those found in other recent studies. The estimates given here are larger than most, but they are not necessarily inconsistent. Briefly, this study uses estimates of long-run marginal supply prices that are higher than prices actually seen by energy buyers in recent times, whereas other studies typically use current prices. This study, in contrast to other studies, also allows a longer period for adjustment.
Most economists think about quantity changes in response to price changes in terms of elasticity coefficients. The estimates of energy-use reductions are therefore compared with results obtained by applying price and income elasticity from the literature. Again, the estimates here are larger, and the reasons for this difference are explored in detail.
The various renewable energy technologies are surveyed. Each is appraised with respect to its present technical status, its cost, and its stage of commercialization. The technologies are grouped according to their suitability to supply electricity, liquid fuels, or heat, since these forms of energy are closely related to the various end uses.
The key question is a quantitative one -- how much renewable energy can be generated? Only a trifling amount (the "establishment" view) or enough, potentially, to power the economy? The question is sharpened by asking, first, whether the renewable energy sources are capable of providing the 20-25 quads that an energy-efficient United States would have demanded in 1980.
We can debate what percentage of the profits should be plowed back into the company and what percentage belongs to the shareholders. Not being a shareholder, I'd prefer to see them err in the direction of spending a larger portion on refineries and new (oil and gas) fields and infrastructure. (USA Today 2015)
The question "how much" must, for economists, be accompanied by the question "at what cost?" The cost criteria used here are not quite strict for conservation investments. There the criterion was the ability of a conservation investment to compete with 1980 long-run marginal supply prices for conventional energy sources, given existing technologies and costs. 20-25 quads of renewable energy are available in the United States by these standards.
It is not sufficient to note an energy demand of 20-25 quads and then to cite potential supplies of that magnitude. One must examine the end uses of energy and determine whether it can be supplied in the appropriate forms. Many of the high growth, high-energy scenarios of the 1970 s did not get beyond extrapolating out to enormous energy demands, and then listing some equally large number of quads from coal, nuclear power, or whatever source. The inconsistencies of these scenarios were more readily discerned when attempts were made to match sources and end uses.
Renewable energy critics have raised several objections. It is charged that some renewable energy systems produce little or no "net energy" -that more energy goes in than comes out. Since some renewable energy sources are intermittent, energy storage issues must be considered. These two matters -- net energy and storage -- are considered here.
Last of all, the question of future growth is considered. If 1980's calculated demands could have been met, what about the demands of a growing economy? The conclusion is that fourfold economic growth could be accommodated without encountering sharp rises in the cost of renewable energy.
Renewable energy technologies intercept natural energy flows and use them for human purposes. This has been done for millennia; the only new thing is that modern technologies have higher conversion efficiencies and lower costs. Most of these natural energy flows are derived from solar radiation striking the earth. The resource, though dilute, is certainly abundant -- some 44,000 quads fall on the United States each year. Variation between clear, sunny regions and cold, cloudy ones is surprisingly small -- annual totals per acre or square foot vary by less than a factor of two.
Solar energy appears indirectly as falling water, blowing wind, or plant matter (biomass). The latter can be burned directly as a fuel or converted into liquid or gaseous fuels. Other, smaller, nonsolar renewable energy flows come from the earth's interior heat (geothermal energy) or from the movement of the tides. Useful categories for considering renewable energy supply technologies are those of electricity, heat, and liquid fuels. This might seem like the wrong order, since electricity is essential for less than 10 percent of end-use energy. Heat and liquid fuels are the major components of the "energy problem." Nevertheless, thirty years of research efforts by governments, here and abroad, have been heavily focused on electricity supply. Curiously enough, behind only low-temperature heat, electricity is the energy form most readily supplied from renewable sources.
Alternate energy not in cards at ExxonMobil , USA Today, 07347456, OCT 28, 2015