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The amount of energy use and productivity influences the development status of every nation on the planet. If a nation generates adequate and dependable electricity, it is well on the way to achieving its growth targets, even if it has not yet achieved the standard of developing countries. Because of its high focus on providing vast quantities of electricity for its people, the United States has retained its superiority over other countries (Littlefield 579). People of the United States have discovered several advantages in using renewable electricity for domestic and industrial uses. Some people use electricity for commercial and domestic uses, while others use it for transportation. In the United States, citizens use different forms of energy such as petroleum, coal, wind, natural gas, solar, and nuclear power among others, which are either renewable or non-renewable. Some challenges affect the production, consumption, and conservation of the energy in the United States. This paper, therefore, concentrates on such challenges that are related to the energy production and consumption in the US. It also explains that various strategies that the government and citizens of the US use to deal with these current issues, and how they plan to deal with the future challenges.
Many years ago, majority of the energy decisions in the US were focused on reliability and cost. Currently, utilities and policy makers take into consideration other factors such as employment creation, economic development, environmental management, and energy security. Although such factors are considered, there are still many challenges to the energy production, consumption, conservation, and safety in the US. The first challenge is the energy costs. The costs of generating various forms of energy determine their prices and hence the willingness of the consumers to depend on such forms (Payne 578). For instance, when determining the prices of electricity and petroleum products, the government parastatals and private companies consider the cost of generation, distribution, and transmission. In the US, the cost of production accounts for 68 percent, distribution accounts for 24 percent and transmission accounts for 7 percent when determining the prices of energy. The electricity that is generated from the existing coal and nuclear plants is considered to be one of the least expensive. The price may only be higher when a state builds a new power plant. The nuclear energy plays a significant role in the power supply to the US. The 104 reactors at the 65 nuclear power plants deliver about 20 percent of the total electric power in the nation (Payne 580). The construction and maintenance of nuclear power stations is a big challenge to the states' government. The construction cost of one plant ranges from 10 to 17 billion dollars. This high construction cost together with the operation cost has led to high prices of nuclear energy, and this has limited many consumers from using nuclear energy. The challenge of high cost is still experienced in other renewable sources like solar energy. The high cost of generating solar energy is very high even though it is one of environmentally conducive energy. This has kept away many investors from engaging in such opportunities.
The second challenge related to consumption of energy is pollution. Energy and pollution go hand in hand because most of the sources of energy result in pollution of the environment during consumption or production. The production of energy from fossil fuels takes the lead in the contamination of the surrounding (Jacobson 2112). For instance, the coal mining in West Virginia continuously causes pollution of streams within the state. The use of petroleum products is always accompanied by oil spills on the coral reefs such as the ones at Florida. Nuclear energy does not directly pollute the environment but has an adverse effect on human beings. There have been an appreciable number of cases of infections on people due to exposure to radiation from the radioactive materials.
Another energy challenge is security. The security of energy in any country is significant in meeting the demands of the consumers. There is high and increasing demand for energy in the United States that poses a big challenge to the producers. By 2009, the average demand for energy was 81800 kWh per person. From the time of independence, the US was 100 percent energy dependent because there was low demand due to a small population (Allouhi 120). The country was producing more petroleum than what they needed to run their businesses and households. Towards the end of the 20th century, the demand for electricity had immensely grown, and this made the country to expand its investment in natural gas and nuclear energy. These were meant to boost the petroleum energy that the country had hugely depended on. Currently, petroleum has become too expensive to be burned for electric power generation. The country had always ventured into the importation of petroleum from 2005 to meet its rising demand for energy consumption (Littlefield 781). Physical security risks have also posed a security challenge to energy production, storage, and consumption. For instance, the Hurricane Sandy and the attack on the Metcalf substation had negative impacts on the infrastructures for supply, storage, and delivery of energy.
The Economic security risk is another challenge that is faced by the energy suppliers in the United States. The risks have a relationship with price changes and international supply disruptions of energy commodities, critical equipment, and materials (Littlefield 786). The US has been engaged in the exportation of coal and some petroleum being that it is the world_x0092_s second producer of petroleum. These globally traded commodities are subjected to changes in price from a range of geopolitical factors. The price shocks lead to uncertainty for businesses that utilize energy, and this reduces the rate of investment and productivity.
Meeting the demands for energy has been a big issue for the government of the United States because of the challenges mentioned above among other challenges. The government has continued to impose some techniques and strategies to combat such challenges. These strategies ensure that the citizens effectively use the power for their domestic and industrial purposes (Allouhi 125). One of the plans for current and future needs is encouraging the growth of alternate energy sources. There has been high demand for fossil fuel that is marked by over 60 percent dependence on oil. Research companies and universities have come out to pioneer technologies that will provide sustainable energy to compete with the current fossil fuels. Wind, biofuels, and solar are some of the best alternatives that many companies are investing into for future energy supply. These renewable sources have shown many challenges in their storage to meet a 24- hour demand. Amec Foster Wheer, among other companies, is currently developing storage systems to allow for efficient storage of the wind and solar energy for use during peak seasons.
The idea of equipping vehicles with the ability to consume clean and affordable natural energy is another plan to meet the increasing demand for transportation fuels such as gasoline and diesel. The scientists have already proved this technology but challenge may still be in the accessibility of the filling stations (Jacobson et al. 2098). The country has also planned to develop cutting-edge electric cars within the next fifty years to take care of the rising demand for gasoline and diesel fuels. Refilling the car would be easy because it would just involve plugging the car into an electrical outlet at the garage.
In an attempt to reduce the challenges associated with the production and consumption of energy, the Congress enacted some short-term renewable tax incentives. The most significant incentive that the Congress enacted is the Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit (Asensio and Delmas 512). The aim of the credit was to encourage the citizens and investors to exploit renewable energy. It provided a reimbursement of about 2 cents per kilowatt-hour of power produced from wind energy. This reimbursement would be provided for ten years after the installation of a turbine. During the short period when the tax credit was available, many institutions made their ways into development projects because there were many gains from the government (Asensio and Delmas 513). Unfortunately, many financial institutions would not venture into projects after the expiry of the incentive. Providing regular and long-term incentives would encourage many people into venturing into production of other energy sources that would help to meet the demand of consumers.
Another strategy that the United States has started implementing in the preparation of the future rise in demand for power is recruiting of the next generation of engineers and scientists. It is anticipated that over the next ten years, a large number of human personnel in the energy industry will retire. The retirements of workers from companies that generate power do not have any relationship with the demand for power. The demand for affordable, reliable and conducive energy will keep on rising, and this will necessitate more production (Allouhi 129). The government and companies currently prepare new young minds who will take bigger roles and projects from the current engineers and scientists. Many industries have invested into this strategy to enhance the sustainability of power now and in future years.
In conclusion, the challenges involving energy production, consumption, conservation, and safety have reduced the rate of development in the United States. The United States would be very far in terms of development if the energy were sufficiently available and conducive to the users. The US being one of the exporters of energy can increase its global market if strategies are adequately implemented to reduce the challenges. Many investors would also continue running into the US to promote the development of this world's superior nation.
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Asensio, Omar I., and Magali A. Delmas. "Nonprice incentives and energy conservation." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 112, no. 6, 2015, pp. 510-515.
Jacobson, Mark Z., et al. "100% clean and renewable wind, water, and sunlight (WWS) all-sector energy roadmaps for the 50 United States." Energy & Environmental Science, vol. 8, no. 7, 2015, pp. 2093-2117.
Littlefield, Scott R. "Security, independence, and sustainability: Imprecise language and the manipulation of energy policy in the United States." Energy Policy, vol.52, no. 16, 2013, pp. 779-788.
Payne, James E. "On the Dynamics of Energy Consumption and Output in the US." Applied Energy, vol. 86, no. 4, 2009, pp. 575-577.
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