25x’25: Investing in America’s Energy Future
Remarkable advances in technology continue to push down the costs of renewable energy wind energy, solar power and biofuels – to levels below those of electricity and fuels derived from coal and petroleum. Even the price of natural gas, which experienced a steep discount as reserves were developed at a record pace in the United States in 2012 and 2013, is starting to track back up to historical levels.
Offering cheaper, cleaner alternatives, renewable energy saves consumers money that stays in the U.S. economy and does not go overseas to often hostile or unstable oil-producing nations.
The Energy Information Administration, the DOE’s chief data research arm, forecasts oil prices to stay above $90 per barrel through 2017, then rise to $140 per barrel by 2040 (in 2003, oil prices ran about $25 per barrel). Even with the drop in oil imports that has resulted from the domestic boom in oil and gas production in recent years, more than a third of the U.S. oil supply still comes from overseas. And we’re paying more for that imported petroleum than we did just a few years ago, spending nearly $370 billion last year, or more than $1 billion per day, compared to less than half that amount for about 25 percent more imported oil in 2008.
Developing renewable energy continues to bring new technologies to market and create jobs in America. The wind energy sector, which draws investments averaging $18 billion per year in new projects, supports more than 86,000 jobs in the United States across fields such as development, siting, construction, transportation, manufacturing, operations and services. The solar energy sector, with installations valued at $13.7 billion, employs more than 143,000 workers at more than 6,000 businesses operating at more than 7,800 locations across every state. The ethanol industry, which added $44 billion to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product in 2013, currently supports more than 86,500 direct jobs in renewable fuel production and agriculture in the United States, as well as more than 300,000 indirect and induced jobs across all sectors of the economy, including engineering, chemistry and accounting. And the $16.8-billion biodiesel industry supports more than pays more than $2.6 billion in wages.
Renewable energy is already at work in many states throughout the United States, helping drive the market for wind, solar and other renewable energy sources. Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), or, in some states, Renewable Energy Standards, require utilities to sell a specified percentage or amount of renewable electricity. The requirement can apply only to investor-owned utilities, though many states also include municipalities and electric cooperatives, usually with lower requirements. These policies can be integral to many state efforts to diversify their energy mix, promote economic development and reduce emissions.
Currently, 29 states, Washington, D.C., and two territories have adopted an RPS, while eight states and two territories have set renewable energy goals. These standard help create reliable markets for renewable energy, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and offering cleaner energy alternatives, with little or no additional cost to consumers. By supporting rapidly growing renewable energy industries, the RPS helps provide jobs and bring investments, tax revenues and other economic benefits to local communities.
Manufacturing of renewable energy technologies is also experiencing growth, driven in part by demand from state renewable electricity standards.
Pursuing the 25x’25 vision will benefit the country. Not only does renewable energy have the benefit of being cleaner and thus reducing health risks and costs, but it also relieves pressure on nonrenewable resources, thus lowering overall energy costs.
To find out more about renewable energy resources, please visit our Why Renewables page.