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U.S. Usage (2008):
Petroleum products (including crude oil & Natural Gas) 7.1 trillion barrels per year
Electrical 4.1 TW•h / year
TW•h - Terawatt Hours = 1 Trillion Watt hours
Petroleum usage: Oil/gas 89%; Natural Gas & Liquefied refinery gases (LRG) 11%
Ethanol and biodiesel usage: 229 million barrels - 3%
Electricity: 23% is from Petroleum products, so there is double counting in the above.
  48% of electricity is from coal, 20% is nuclear and 9.3% is from renewables.
  (6.2% Hydroelectric; 1.3% Wind; 1.3% Biomass; 0.4% Geothermal; < 0.1% Solar)
Electric Power Summary Statistics at DOE Energy Information Administration (EIA) Electric Power Industry 2008: Year in Review

See Energy Stats
Sierra Club - Renewable Energy

  • Wind: The Department of Energy has stated that we can get 20 percent of our power from wind energy alone by 2030.
    Wind Energy
    DOE, Sierra Club
    At the end of 2009 Europe was the leader in wind power. Denmark (over 19% of electricity is generated by wind), Spain and Portugal (values over 11%), Germany and the Republic of Ireland (values over 6%).
    The U.S. has the highest total capacity, but it still only represents 1.9% of electrical generationf.
  • Solar: The solar PV industry aiming to provide half of all new U.S. electricity generation by 2025.
    See: DOE, Sierra Club
  • Water: Hydroelectric Generation
    See: DOE
  • Geothermal: The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that geothermal power plants can provide 15,000 MWs of new capacity within the next decade.
    See: DOE, Sierra Club
  • Biomass: Methane can be produced/captured from animal manure, wastewater, landfill gas, food crops, grassy and woody plants, municipal and industrial wastes.
    Biomass is the only renewable which can be turned on or off at will (doesn't require wind or sunlight), and is the only one which can provide electricity, heat and fuel.
    See: DOE, Sierra Club
  • Hydrogen and fuel cells: See: DOE
  • Others: Wave Power

Biomass: Biomass: Energy (Methane, Ethanol, ..) can be pro Biomass that is high in moisture content, such as animal manure and food-processing wastes, is suitable for producing biogas using anaerobic digester technology. Symbiotic groups of bacteria break down complex organic wastes in a series of steps resulting in biogas, a mixture of gases, with methane and carbon dioxide making up more than 90 percent of the total. Other sources include food crops, grassy and woody plants, residues from agriculture or forestry, and the organic component of municipal and industrial wastes. Similar processes occur naturally underground in landfills. "landfill gas," is typically 50% methane, 45% carbon dioxide and 5% other gases. It is captured by a series of wells drilled into the landfill.

Cellulosic Ethanol can be created from wood and grasses as described in the science section.

See: Biogas Technology at
Biomass Energy Basics


  • Impoundment (dams)
  • Diversion (channels a portion of a river through a canal or penstock without a dam)
  • Pumped storage (When the demand for electricity is low, a pumped storage facility stores energy by pumping water from a lower reservoir to an upper reservoir. During periods of high electrical demand, the water is released back to the lower reservoir to generate electricity).

Deregulation allos you to select an alternative energy provider to generate your electricity while you same local utility delivers it.
There are several providers which supply green energy.
See Green Power Network: Can I Buy Green Power in My State? |
In 2012 Viridian purchased 2 million megawatt-hrs (MWh)

53% Wind
33% Biomass
 6% Hydro
 3.5% Blast Furnace Gas
 2.2% Natural Gas
 1.0% Solar
Energy Switch: Proven Solutions for a Renewable Future, by Craig Morris, 2006
In a Freakonomics podcast Joshua Goldstein talks about nuclear safety.
Goldstein is a professor emeritus of international relations at American University. He recently co-authored a book called A Bright Future: How Some Countries Have Solved Climate Change and the Rest Can Follow. In the book, he busts a variety of nuclear-power myths and he highlights the countries that have built a lot of nuclear reactors — countries like Sweden and France.

Today there are about 440 nuclear-power reactors operating in 33 countries. And remember, only 10 percent of global electricity is produced that way. So how dangerous is it? One way to answer that question is to measure the deaths per unit of electricity produced by the various types of energy around the world — coal, solar, natural gas, wind, oil, hydro, and nuclear. Ranking most to least dangerous:

  1. Coal Nearly triple the deaths of the next source — is coal. Between the mining, the transport, the burning, and the pollution, nothing else is nearly as dangerous.
  2. Oil
  3. Natural Gas
  4. Hydroelectric power — actually very safe overall, but its death rate was skewed by a massive accident in China in 1975 that killed more than 170,000 people.
  5. Rooftop solar power. Very safe, although accidents do happen with installations.
  6. Wind. Again, very safe overall.
  7. Nuclear power. Even with the famous meltdowns you know about — Chernobyl in Ukraine,in 1986; Fukushima Daiichi in Japan in 2011; and Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979.
None of the current nuclear plants have the problems that resulted in those disasters.

So How did we go from inventing nuclear power to essentially shunning it? Yes, there was the fear created by Chernobyl and evenThree Mile Island and the movie "China Syndrome". But Goldstein says we shouldn’t underestimate the power of the environmentalist movement?
So it really predates all those accidents. I would go back to 1973, when the Sierra Club, which had always been pro-nuclear power because it’s so environmentally — it’s why I love it, I’m an environmentalist. Then they flipped and became anti-nuclear power. And then they went to Ohio, where Ohio was burning coal and was planning to build nuclear plants. And the Sierra Club successfully sued and agitated and raised money and got them to shut down most of what was being built there.
There was a strand of thought that technology was bad. The population was growing too fast, too many people, people were bad. And the head of the Sierra Club, David Brower, subscribed to that.
[Brower is no longer with the Sierra Club, but they still oppose nuclear]

DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
Viridian | Green electricity
Sierra Club - Renewable Energy
Reducing Our Carbon Footprint: Fact and Fiction by Sunil Somalwar

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last updated 26 Mar 2010