Every year, it seems like we are getting closer and closer to that space-age futuristic reality that Hollywood projected we would be at by now. Though we didn’t have hoverboards in 2015 like Back to the Future II had predicted, we’re not terribly far behind.
With every software update and each new model that comes out, we are constantly leaving the old, outdated, rudimentary versions in the dust. So why are we still holding on to fossil fuels and unrenewable energy?
American Energy Production and Consumption
In 2018, 63.5% of electricity consumed by Americans was generated from nonrenewable fossil fuels, where coal took up 25% of our total energy production and only 17% came from renewable energy sources, like solar, geothermal, or wind.
Renewable energy consumption dispersed amongst all 50 states differentiates depending on the location. For instance, states like Rhode Island, Idaho, Oregon, Delaware, and Maine all are 100% reliant on renewable resources for their energy, while Wyoming caps off at 0.5% renewable energy, and Oklahoma and Louisiana barely surpass 1%.
There are quite a few roadblocks in our way to becoming a greener nation - our recycling efforts are continuously mixed in with nonrecyclables because we have nowhere to send them, and a president that actively supports the coal industry and retracted the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, leaving us the only nation in the world outside of the pact.
Being a Sustainable Consumer for The Planet (and Your Wallet!)
Outside of the politics, though, for the individual, an ecofriendly lifestyle is becoming easier to achieve. So, what can we expect in the upcoming years and decades from renewable energy as consumers?
As sustainable substitutes to nonrenewable energy sources keep popping up, we can make more changes to our daily routine as the prices go down to acquire better options. For instance, the price tag on an LED bulb versus a CFL bulb would be about double the price in-store, but the lifespan of an LED bulb is over triple that of a CFL bulb and will use less of your electricity, saving you money in the long run on your bills as well.
Larger appliances like refrigerators, washing machines, or televisions obviously can’t be converted to solar power, but you can invest in an energy-efficient version. When shopping for a new appliance, look for the blue Energy Star marking, deeming that the appliance is certified to be more cost and energy-efficient.
On an industrial scale, prices are expected to decrease as well. By 2050, it’s estimated that the average cost to build a solar plant will decrease by 71%, and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)’s list of Major Solar Projects counts over 8,700 solar projects amounting to an estimated 108 gigawatts worth of solar energy.
It’s a messy situation politically, but as a society, we are taking baby steps towards a greener planet that will make the future of alternative energy bright and booming.