The amount of energy the United States consumes increases every year and this growth in energy consumption outpaces energy production. To fill this gap, the U.S. imports 35% of its energy. More importantly, the U.S. imports over 60% of its total oil consumption. Added to this, 70% of this energy is from non-renewable sources.
Renewable energy sources have proven to be energy efficient, cost effective, and environmentally friendly. The military is adopting many types of renewable energy sources and the results are impressive.
There are several viable renewable energy sources: biomass, hydropower, geothermal, wind, solar, and nuclear. Geography limits some renewable energy sources, like hydropower, while others, like nuclear power, are limited by the length of time it takes to build and certify the power plant. Nevertheless, all renewable energy sources have potential for growth.
The Federal Government has taken steps to encourage and regulate green energy through various laws and initiatives. The National Energy Policy (NEP), published in 2001, provides the basis for the current legal and regulatory framework surrounding green energy. In compliance with legislative mandates, the military is expanding its implementation of green energy.
Renewable Energy Sources
Biomass is man’s oldest source of fuel. Today, power is generated from a variety of biomass sources. In addition to wood, biomass sources include landfill gases and energy crops such as corn and grasses. Still, 75% of current biomass production comes from wood. In 2005, renewable energy sources contributed 7% of the nation’s energy and biomass accounted for 48% of the renewable energy consumed in the U.S. (not including nuclear power).
Biomass resources are primarily located in the eastern half of the country and on the West Coast. Today, the U.S. only produces 190 million dry tons of biomass. The use of biomass has the potential to reduce greenhouse emissions from between 52 to 86%. An added benefit of biomass crops is they create a carbon sink. Plants require carbon dioxide to grow and the physical production of biomass crops directly reduces the amount of greenhouse gases. Energy produced from biomass is as inexpensive as six cents per kilowatt-hour and is in line with other renewable sources of energy.