Global warming is once again a hot conversational topic, with wildfires raging along the West Coast and the record hurricane season. The most often-discussed solution to climate change is to reduce fossil fuel consumption and replace it with cleaner, more renewable energy sources.
How much progress do you think we have made in this effort? What would you guess is the total percentage of U.S. energy production today coming from renewable energy sources? 40%? 30%? 25%?
If you guessed 11%, you were correct. Fossil fuels still make up more than 70% of the energy production in the U.S., as of August, when the U.S. Energy Information Administration collected its most recent statistics. Between 1949 and 2019, Hydroelectric power has provided a fairly consistent 2- 4% of the total, while biomass consumption (including biodiesel) has reached 4% over the same time period. Wind and solar (2% and 1% respectively but growing) are still far behind.
Fortunately, our cars and trucks are much more fuel-efficient than they were back in the old days, and that helps the environment, right? According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the fuel efficiency in the ever-popular heavy-duty trucks has actually DECLINED since 1950. Other vehicles have raised their average MPG rating (light-duty vehicles include cars that most of us drive) from about 15 in 1950 to just over 23 today. Chances are, you thought we had made more progress than that over the last 70 years.
Although solar power is still a small part of the overall picture, it is also the fastest-growing source of renewal energy. Solar production has increased immensely last ten years, and the trend, if you can ignore the seasonal ups and downs, suggests near exponential growth.
This article was written by an independent writer for Brewster Financial Planning LLC and is not intended as individualized legal or investment advice.