Energy Independence

Energy Independence

The most direct way to reduce our dependency on foreign oil is to simply use less of it, starting with the cars and trucks we drive. Nearly 70 percent of our oil use is for transportation, and more than 65 percent of that amount is for personal vehicles...energy independence means changing how we power our cars and trucks from foreign oil to new American-made fuels and batteries.

“We will continue to need high-energy-density fuels for years to come. But we can develop new liquid biofuels that will be direct replacements for gasoline and diesel fuel. These will be next-generation biofuels made from high-energy grasses such as miscanthus and from agricultural wastes. In 2005 the Oak Ridge National Laboratory outlined an achievable strategy (known as the "Billion Ton" study) for using biomass to replace 30 percent of our transportation fuels, and the science has advanced since then. When we have new biofuels that can be blended at any level with gasoline and that are safe for both engines and the environment, the importance of oil as a strategic resource will plummet.” ~ Nobel physicist Steven Chu, U.S. Secretary of Energy

Switchgrass

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) believes that biofuels — made from crops of native grasses, such as fast-growing switchgrass—could reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil, curb emissions of the "greenhouse gas" carbon dioxide, and strengthen America's farm economy. The Biofuels Feedstock Development Program (BFDP) at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), has assembled a team of scientists ranging from economists and energy analysts to plant physiologists and geneticists to lay the groundwork for this new source of renewable energy. Included are researchers at universities, other national laboratories, and agricultural research stations around the nation. Their goal, according to ORNL physiologist Sandy McLaughlin, who leads the switchgrass research effort, is nothing short of building the foundation for a biofuels industry that will make and market ethanol and other biofuels from switchgrass and at prices competitive with fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel.

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Solar Energy Potential

The technology required to harness the power of the sun is available now. Solar power alone could provide all of the energy Americans consume — there is no shortage of solar energy. The following paragraphs will give you the information you need to prove this to yourself and others. You do not need advanced math skills to follow and perform the arithmetic examples shown below. Anyone who can balance a checkbook or calculate the total square feet of floor space in his or her home, and understand why an area measuring 10 yards by 10 yards equals 100 square yards, can perform the following arithmetic examples and prove that American energy independence could be achieved with solar energy alone.

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Wind Power

Wind is an inexhaustible source of energy. But the full potential of wind cannot be developed unless engineers understand the problem they are solving. A brilliant engineer will come up with a brilliant solution, but if the solution is for the wrong problem — that would be a wasted opportunity.

Wind engineers are doing a brilliant job developing solutions that have vastly improved the performance of wind turbines and the generators connected directly to the turbines; as well as in understanding the behavior and availability of wind resources. But it is time for Engineers to turn their creative efforts toward solving the problem of wind energy’s intermittency.

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