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Alternative Energy Home
Can Alternative Energy Effectively Replace Fossil Fuels?
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Chart of Energy Use by State and by Source, 2008
How the US Uses Oil
Background Information on the 2008 Keystone XL Pipeline Application
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Last updated on: 8/13/2009 10:59:00 AM PST
Did You Know?
The United States has
1.6% of the world's oil but it uses 24%
of the world's oil production.
In 2007 the
US relied on fossil fuels to supply about 85% of its energy needs
, while renewables such as wind, solar, and biomass accounted for about 7% of US energy consumption. Nuclear power supplied the remaining 8%.
104 nuclear power plants in the US
provide about 20% of the country's electricity (as of Apr. 23, 2008).
first demonstration of electricity generation from a solar cell
took place in 1876, and the
first windmill to generate electricity
was built in 1888.
If captured, the
solar radiation reaching the earth's surface
in one year could provide more than 10,000 times the world's yearly energy needs.
If 20% of US electricity were obtained from wind power, it would reportedly
reduce green house gas emissions equivalent to taking 71 million cars off the road
For wind power to provide all daily US energy needs,
all of the wind energy (kinetic energy) from an area the size of Wyoming
would need to be captured every day.
As many as
4,700 birds are killed each year
by wind turbines at the world's largest wind farm in California's Altamont Pass.
Solar energy powered the first satelite
launched into orbit by the US in 1958.
If all of the corn produced annually in the US were converted into ethanol, it would be able to replace about
7% of the total oil consumption
in the US each year.
450 pounds of corn to make 25 gallons of ethanol
. That same amount of corn contains enough calories to feed a person for a year.
The first "flex fuel" vehicle - a car that runs on ethanol or gasoline - was the
1908 Ford Model-T
Between 1999 and 2007, drilling permits for oil and gas extraction on US public lands
increased more than 361%
US consumes 317.1 billion gallons of oil per year
(as of 2006). 70% of it is used for transportation.
'Peak oil' - the point when global oil production reaches its maximum possible level and begins to decline - has already occurred
according to some energy analysts
Waste from nuclear power plants
can remain radioactive from days to hundreds or thousands of years.
In Dec. of 2008 the worst coal ash spill in US history took place
, spilling 1.3 million cubic meters of sludge into a valley in Tennessee. The waste contained arsenic, lead, and other toxics. Coal ash, a byproduct of coal burning for electricity generation, is
not regulated as a hazardous waste
by the US EPA.
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