Grant H. California

Renewable Energy

Th way we get energy right now is not going to last forever and is seriously hurting our planet and ourselves. We need to make the switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

 Dear Next President,

Of the many problems facing our country, I feel as though there is one that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. There is a problem with the source of our energy and how we create it. Most of our energy comes from non-renewable resources that cause massive amounts of pollution. These sources of energy are only thought to last maybe another 50 years if we’re lucky, and then what? What do we do from there? The thing about it is, we have the resources and the technology to switch over to, and rely on, renewable energy, like wind and solar. All we need to do is set a plan in motion to start switching over, and that can very easily start, with you.

In 2013, the world energy sources were 31.1% oil, 28.9% coal, and 21.4% natural gas. That means that 81.4% of the world’s energy relied on non-renewable resources. In 2015, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, about 67% of the U.S’s 4 trillion kilowatt hours was from fossil fuels. These are all resources that we will inevitably run out of. Studies and research done at Stanford believe we only have about 40-50 years of oil left, and after that, we will have to rely on whatever else we have available. On top of this, the way we gather and create the energy using these sources causes massive amounts of pollution, mostly through the release of CO2. This is damaging the air we breath, and causing global warming. But there are solutions to this.

In one hour, the sun blasts the earth with about 430 quintillion joules of energy. Humans on earth use about 410 quintillion joules in a whole year. The sun alone can power the earth for a whole year in one hour, and yet, in 2015 the U.S. used solar for only 0.37% of its energy usage. This is something we can change. Solar panels continue to improve year by year. They are able to absorb more sun and turn more of it into energy. Tech Insider released an article with projections for 2030. They predict, that we would only need a land area the size of Spain to power the entire world. And this is if we only use solar. There are so many other forms of renewable energy we can use along with this, such as hydroelectric, geothermal, biofuels, and wind. Wind energy provided for 4.7% of the U.S’s energy in 2015. This is a lot more than solar, but still not that much. However, like solar panels, wind turbines are being improved constantly as well. We’ve recently implemented new fins for wind turbines which mimic whale fins. They cut through the air better, spin faster, and make more energy. We even already have states that have begun making pushes for more renewable energy, like California. California has a goal to be 50% renewable energy by 2030, and in doing this they’ve created a lot of wind and solar farms. From this, we’ve found that solar energy works too well. The California Independent system operator has been telling farms to turn off their solar cells, because they’re making more energy than the grid can handle. This has also begun to lead to innovations in designing a better power grid. This is only one state though. If we are going to have a more green country, with more renewable energy, that can start with you. If you begin to implement these changes slowly across the country, we can move towards California’s goal, but as a whole.

So, if these changes are so easy to make, why haven't they been done already? I feel like there are many different answers to this question, but I think the main answer is money. There is so much money in oil and fossil fuels, so when some plan comes up to start to push towards renewable energy, or to slow the use of fossil fuels, it tends to get a lot of opposition. For example, President Obama put a request into Congress to protect Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He proposed making it completely protected which meant that no roads could be built, no hunting was to be done, and there would be no drilling for oil at all. This was done to protect the hundreds of species of animals that are native to that region. Well, this request got staunch opposition from Republicans in Congress. There is a supposed 5.7 billion barrels of oil around that area, and they wanted it. While the request still hasn’t been denied, it definitely has not been approved either. Another example of a way money is stopping this is how much it would cost to implement a plan like this. Well first off, we wouldn’t make this giant switch from fossil fuel to renewable all at once. This would cause a lot of problems. It would be a slow process over multiple years, maybe even decades, so we don’t have to worry about this big huge price tag all at once. On top of that, the primary resource in solar cells is silicon, which is the most abundant element in the earth’s crust. While yes, it still costs money to make and install all these things, we have an abundance of the resource necessary to do it.

My proposition is that you try to implement a plan that, over the course of a few years or a few decades, we make a push towards renewable energy for the entire country by adding more wind and solar farms. They don’t necessarily have to be everywhere, but in places that their useful, like more solar farms in sunnier states and more wind farms in windier states. The final piece of this should be allowing the people to vote on it, not Congress. I feel as though there will be different results if let Congress vote on it, rather than the people of the U.S. I know that we can begin that big push towards more renewable resources. All we need is your help to get it started. 

New Technology High School

American Studies

New Tech High's Junior class. This is a team taught US History and Literature class.

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