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2014 U.S. Renewable Energy Breakdown

June 24th, 2014

Statistics reveal that nearly 82 percent of energy in the United States still comes from fossil fuels. While a move towards renewable energy exists — wind is the fastest growing renewable source — more development of alternative energy sources is needed. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a breakdown of the progress of American renewable energy in 2014.

Wind Energy continues to slowly grow in Capacity

As of 2012, the United States boasted installed wind turbines that provide 60 Gigawatts of electricity generating capacity. This country’s wind resources have the potential to generate over 10,000 GW of electricity. Even with that promise, the estimates for installed wind capacity only reach 500 GW by 2050.

Considering that one wind turbine providing a megawatt of electricity displaces nearly 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, additional investment in wind power bodes well for the environment. A wind power capacity of 300 GW keeps 825 million metric tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere on an annual basis.

Reducing the Cost of Solar Energy is Key

Solar panels covering only 0.6 percent of the United States provide enough energy for the entire country. Unfortunately, the price of solar energy equipment is what’s holding back faster adoption. The Department of Energy developed the SunShot Initiative with the hopes of reducing the costs of solar energy by 75 percent before the end of this decade.

If SunShot is successful, the expectation is that 27 percent of U.S. electricity demand will be met by solar sources by 2050. This will result in a 28 percent decrease in greenhouse gas emissions over that same period.

Geothermal and Hydrothermal Sources offer Promise

Geothermal power sources in the United States currently keep 22 million metric tons of CO2 from polluting the atmosphere. These sources are primarily available in the Western U.S. along with Alaska and Hawaii. The amount of geothermal electricity from power plants is expected to increase from 17 billion kWh in 2011 to 56 billion kWh by 2040, making this energy source beneficial for the environment.

If the promise of renewable energy inspires you to take you engineering career to the next level, make it a point to talk to The Talley Group. As one of the top engineering staffing agencies in Washington State, they are a great source for Seattle engineering jobs. Give them a call today!

How to Advance Alternative Energy

November 15th, 2013

Despite significant government subsidies and investment, the alternative energy industry could be growing at a faster rate. While some of this lack of growth is due to Great Recession and its slow recovery, the advent of “fracking” technology that subsequently led to the increased availability and lower prices of natural gas also played a role in slowing the development of newer energy sources.

In short, the alternative energy industry needs to compete better with carbon-based energy sources, especially natural gas.

Sharing Ideas on Growing Alternative Energy

Recently the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) held a day long symposium in Washington D.C. focused on developing strategies to advance the growth of solar, wind, and other alternative energy sources. At this forum, Dr. Patrick Phelan from the U.S. Department of Energy noted that while these energy sources can’t yet provide a similar ROI as oil and gas, they are poised to get there within the next five years.

The promise of Concentrated Solar Power is still a ways off in being cost effective, but advancements in materials and manufacturing hopefully will make this unique technology — picture the “old magnifying glass with the sun” trick — viable in the future. CSP may even outstrip “regular” solar power in efficiency once it matures.

Combining Alternative and Traditional Energy Sources

Speaking of solar power, it appears there will be some use of the technology to help support generation at utility stations. There was also some discussion about using thermal energy in the world of transportation to supplement traditional fossil-based sources. Recent advancements in this area have lessened the use of expensive fuels in experimental military aircraft.

These kinds of hybrid applications, combining both alternative and fossil-based energy sources, appear to be one promising way to leverage the promise of solar and thermal energy, while their economics are still being developed.

If the development of alternative energy is something that inspires you in advancing your engineering career, talk to the experts at The Talley Group. They are one of the leading engineering staffing firms in the Seattle area, with the expertise to ensure your career takes off. If you are looking for alternative energy jobs in Seattle, contact us today.

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