5.1. Natural gas prices are soaring, and our oil reserves are continually depleting. What is the best short-term solution to these mounting problems?
The development of renewables, in conjunction with improved efficiency, provides one of the only solutions that can be executed within the next 5 to 10 years. Drilling in ANWR (Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge), nuclear development, and new advanced coal facilities are examples of projects that will take at least 10 years or longer. Research into other energy sources such as fusion or hydrogen is not expected to provide any new energy for at least a generation—and hydrogen and fuel cells are not energy resources, but rather utilization approaches. While increasing efficiency, they do not provide additional electricity baseload options. (1)
The good news is that many megawatts of geothermal potential, along with potential from other renewable sources, exist throughout the U.S. The right incentives for developers and markets willing to bring these megawatts on line are the key ingredients. In many cases today that means the federal production tax credit and state-level renewable portfolio standards.
5.2. How can geothermal energy contribute to national security?
Geothermal energy is a domestic energy resource that can displace natural gas in the electric power sector, which we are increasingly importing from OPEC countries. In addition, with the expanded use of hybrid vehicles that can also be recharged from the power grid, geothermal power can help curb the need for imported oil. Direct use applications provide an alternative to electricity, gas, propane or oil in commercial, industrial and agricultural uses.
Today, the U.S. imports more than 60% of its oil, and imports nearly 10% of its natural gas. The government predicts both oil and gas imports to increase, often coming from politically unstable areas of the world. (2) Because geothermal energy is produced locally, use of geothermal energy reduces our reliance on outside markets for fuel. In addition, geothermal is less likely to be a terrorist target than many other large baseload power plants. By increasing the availability of indigenous fuel in the U.S., geothermal can improve our ability to control our economic future and improve our national security, and conserve our available oil and natural gas resources for high value uses, such as chemical feedstock and pharmaceuticals.
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