2019 was a year of record-setting for the U.S. energy industry. For the first time in over 60 years, the amount of energy produced by the United States was higher than the amount the country consumed.1 Moreover, the amount of renewable energy consumed outperformed the energy consumption of coal in over 130 years, according to the Energy Information Administration.2
Coal production is trending downward while renewable energy resources like solar, wind, and hydropower are becoming more prevalent.4 But what does this all have to do with energy independence and why should you care?
Being dependent on others for your country’s energy needs can get complicated really quickly. Foreign relations can have a direct impact on whether or not the country has enough fuel, the daily prices of energy for your home and vehicle, and more. So, one way that experts see the U.S. becoming more resilient is by increasing its investment in renewable energy.
What is Energy Independence?
In a nutshell, energy independence occurs when a country doesn’t have to rely on the energy production of other countries to satisfy its energy needs. The country is self-sufficient because it can generate and refine what it needs.
Countries often strive to achieve “energy independence” because it gives them more control over where their energy comes from. Specifically, in the event of an energy resource becoming no longer available, they have the ability to quickly rebound and recover. This is known as energy security or energy resiliency, and it’s a hotly debated topic in today’s political spheres.
However, energy independence remains really more of an ideal than a reality.
Is the US Energy Independent?
No. Even though Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which aimed to move the U.S. toward greater energy independence and security through the production of clean renewable fuels, the United States still imports lots of crude oil (about 9.10 million barrels per day in 2019) from more than 90 countries like Saudi Arabia to meet its energy needs.4 Plus, fossil fuels still dominate energy production — around 80% of the U.S’s energy production in 2019 came from non-renewable sources.
Yes, this makes the U.S. more energy resilient, but not independent nor that renewable. However, America’s energy mix is becoming greener and greener each year as we expand the development of renewable energy sources like solar and wind.
Is US Energy Independence Possible?
Probably not in the short term, but we’re on our way to becoming more energy resilient than ever! Besides, fossil fuels will eventually run out, so we can’t rely on them forever. To achieve long-term sustainability and resilience, the adoption of renewable energy sources like solar power is the answer to our energy problems.
It’s a scientific fact that renewable energy sources like solar and wind will never go away. They’ll literally always be here. And according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the U.S. is heading in the right direction. Renewable energy production and consumption reached record highs in 2019 (roughly 12% of all U.S. energy production) mainly because of increases in solar and wind energy production.5
Chariot Energy is doing its part to ensure the U.S. becomes more resilient than ever before, and it starts with our Oberon solar farm. This facility went live in June 2020, and it will produce 180,000 megawatts (MW) of clean energy, the electricity equivalent of powering 30,000 homes. And that’s just the beginning.
Looking Forward: The Future of Renewables
This article was written in the midst of a pandemic. COVID-19 has affected the world energy market in many ways, especially the supply and demand of oil, which is a major factor in the U.S.’s energy independence. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has agreed to extend oil production cuts of 9.7 million barrels a day, or about 10% of global output during normal times.7
Renewable energy isn’t exempt from this, either. The Solar Energy Industries Association reports that the pandemic has caused more than 72,000 solar workers to lose their jobs.6 But believe it or not, the renewable energy industry is actually expected to keep growing in 2020.8
The coronavirus is having a major effect on the world’s energy market, and many say it’s too soon to tell where this will all land. But leading experts, such as the World Economic Forum, have confirmed that COVID-19 has accelerated the clean energy transition.
While only time will give us answers, the message is pretty clear: Renewables like solar and wind are resilient and here to stay.