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Power and Energy in the US

Explaining the power grids and electricity availability over the US. Green power and Renewable energy and Conventional power.

Green power is a subset of renewable energy and represents those renewable energy resources and technologies that provide the highest environmental benefit.  

Renewable energy includes resources that rely on fuel sources that restore themselves over short periods of time and do not diminish. Such fuel sources include the sun, wind, moving water, organic plant and waste material (eligible biomass), and the earth's heat (geothermal).

Conventional power includes the combustion of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil) and the nuclear fission of uranium. Fossil fuels have environmental costs from mining, drilling, or extraction, and emit greenhouse gases and air pollution during combustion. 

What Is Green Power? | Green Power Partnership | US EPA

 

Conventional electricity can be a significant source of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Switching to green power can help improve the environmental profile of your electricity use, while also providing other valuable benefits. Using green power helps to:

  • Support renewable energy development (either directly or indirectly)
  • Reduce the carbon footprint associated with your purchased electricity
  • Hedge against future electricity price increases and volatility (certain products)

For organizational users, green power can:

  • Serve as a brand differentiator
  • Generate customer, investor, or stakeholder loyalty and employee pride
  • Create positive publicity and enhance your organization's public image
  • Demonstrate civic leadership

Benefits of Using Green Power | Green Power Partnership | US EPA

Supply Options for Green Power

Retail Supply Options: These "off the shelf" options are typically standardized products (e.g. resource mix, price, 3rd-party certification status) for sale to consumers from retail suppliers, such as utilities, competitive electricity suppliers, and REC marketers. Retail supply options generally involve short-term commitments by the consumer to purchase a pre-determined volume or a volume tied to their electricity consumption. The renewable energy project(s) used to supply the product may be periodically changed by the supplier during the duration of the contract.

Project-Specific Supply Options: These options are generally customized products negotiated between the consumer and supplier. Project-specific supply options involve long-term commitments by consumers to purchase a volume tied to the output of a pre-determined generation capacity. The renewable energy project used to supply the product is constant throughout the term of the contract or commitment.

Green Power Supply Options | Green Power Partnership | US EPA

Renewable energy is energy from sources that are naturally replenishing but flow-limited; renewable resources are virtually inexhaustible in duration but limited in the amount of energy that is available per unit of time.

The major types of renewable energy sources are

What role does renewable energy play in the United States?

Until the mid-1800s, wood was the source of nearly all of the nation's energy needs for heating, cooking, and lighting. From the late 1800’s until today, fossil fuels—coal, petroleum, and natural gas—have been the major sources of energy. Hydropower and wood were the most used renewable energy resources until the 1990s. Since then, the amounts and the percentage shares of total U.S. energy consumption from biofuels, geothermal energy, solar energy, and wind energy increased, and in 2019, the combined percentage share of these renewable energy sources was greater than the combined share of wood and hydro energy.

The consumption of biofuels, geothermal, solar, and wind energy in the United States in 2019 was nearly three times greater than in 2000.

In 2019, renewable energy provided about 11.5 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu)—1 quadrillion is the number 1 followed by 15 zeros—equal to 11.4% of total U.S. energy consumption. The electric power sector accounted for about 56% of total U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2019, and about 17% of total U.S. electricity generation was from renewable energy sources.

Renewable energy can play an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Using renewable energy can reduce the use of fossil fuels, which are the largest sources of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that U.S. renewable energy consumption will continue to increase through 2050.

Renewable energy explained - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)

 

Fossil energy sources, including oil, coal and natural gas, are non-renewable resources that formed when prehistoric plants and animals died and were gradually buried by layers of rock. Over millions of years, different types of fossil fuels formed -- depending on what combination of organic matter was present, how long it was buried and what temperature and pressure conditions existed as time passed.

Today, fossil fuel industries drill or mine for these energy sources, burn them to produce electricity, or refine them for use as fuel for heating or transportation. Over the past 20 years, nearly three-fourths of human-caused emissions came from the burning of fossil fuels.

The Energy Department maintains emergency petroleum reserves, ensures responsible development of America’s oil and gas resources and executes natural gas regulatory responsibilities. In addition, scientists at the Energy Department’s National Labs are developing technologies to reduce carbon emissions and ensure fossil energy sources play a role in America’s clean energy future.

 

Fossil fuels, including coal, oil and natural gas, are currently the world's primary energy source. Formed from organic material over the course of millions of years, fossil fuels have fueled U.S. and global economic development over the past century. Yet fossil fuels are finite resources and they can also irreparably harm the environment. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the burning of fossil fuels was responsible for 76 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2016. These gases contribute to the greenhouse effect and could lead to potentially catastrophic changes in the Earth’s climate. Technologies such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) may help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions generated by fossil fuels, and nuclear energy can be a zero-carbon alternative for electricity generation. But other, more sustainable and less risky solutions exist: energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Fossil Fuels | EESI

 

"A Green New Deal" was a report released in the United Kingdom on 21 July 2008 by the Green New Deal Group and published by the New Economics Foundation, which outlines a series of policy proposals to tackle global warming, the current financial crisis, and peak oil. The report calls for the re-regulation of finance and taxation, and major government investment in renewable energy sources. Its full title is: A Green New Deal: Joined-up policies to solve the triple crunch of the credit crisis, climate change and high oil prices.

A Green New Deal - Wikipedia

Green New Deal (GND) proposals call for public policy to address climate change along with achieving other social aims like job creation and reducing economic inequality. The name refers back to the New Deal, a set of social and economic reforms and public works projects undertaken by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression. The Green New Deal combines Roosevelt's economic approach with modern ideas such as renewable energy and resource efficiency.

A prominent recent attempt to get legislation passed for a Green New Deal was sponsored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) during the 116th United States Congress. It was a pair of resolutions, House Resolution 109 and S. Res. 59,. On March 25, 2019, Markey's resolution failed to advance in the U.S. Senate in a margin of 0–57, with most Senate Democrats voting "present" in protest of an early vote called by Republicans. As of 2019 there had been consistently high support among Democrats for the proposal, whereas almost all Republicans were opposed.

Since the early 2000s, and especially since 2018, other proposals for a "Green New Deal" had arisen both in the United States and internationally. The first U.S. politician to run on a Green New Deal platform was Howie Hawkins of the Green Party when he ran for governor of New York in 2010. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein ran on a Green New Deal platform in 2012 and 2016.

Green New Deal - Wikipedia

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