Surprises in the API’s “State of American Energy Report”

The ECOreport looks at surprises in the API’s “State of American Energy Report” – How old technologies recognize renewables

By Roy L Hales

Screen-shot-2014-03-18-at-3.43.47-PM1There are a lot of Surprises in the API’s “State of American Energy Report.” Some of the opening chapters have names like: “Nuclear Energy Reliably Powers America”;  “Hydropower, A Wave of Potential for a Renewable Energy Future”; “Geothermal Power, Renewable Energy from the Earth’s Warmth”; “Solar Energy in America Shines Bright”; “The Attributes of Wind Energy are Adding Up”; “Biomass Power: Ready, Proven and Cost-Effective Energy.” There are chapters on oil, natural gas and coal as well, but the  American Petroleum Institute (API) doesn’t normally promote fossil fuels.

We Presented Snapshots

Photo Credit: Matt King of Wallowa Resources shows off the fuel for their new pellet boiler at their offices in (Oregon Department of Forestry) Enterprise, Oregon. The pellets are stored in bins that once held coal to heat the building.
Photo Credit: Matt King of Wallowa Resources shows off the fuel for their new pellet boiler at their offices in (Oregon Department of Forestry) Enterprise, Oregon. The pellets are stored in bins that once held coal to heat the building.

“It’s a report that included a chapter for all the major energy industries and we presented snapshots of our energy,” said David Ward, Deputy Director, Strategic Communications for the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

Here are a few gleanings from the API’s report:

Nuclear Energy : “Five reactors are now under construction in the Southeast and all projects in this $30 billion expansion are more than halfway completed and tracking well relative to budget and schedule. These are among the largest construction projects in the United States. Two advanceddesign reactors being built at the Vogtle site
near Augusta, Ga., represent the largest construction project in Georgia history — creating 5,000 jobs and driving vigorous economic development.” 

Hydropower facilities can quickly go from zero power to maximum output, making them exceptionally good at meeting rapidly changing demands for electricity throughout the day. Long project life spans and zero fuel costs provide electricity at low-cost to tens of millions of Americans from coast to coast. Requiring nothing more than the flow of
moving water, hydropower does not produce air pollution or toxic by-products.”

Geothermal power offers both firm and flexible solutions to the changing U.S. power system by providing a range of services, including, but not limited to baseload, regulation, load following or energy imbalance, spinning reserve, nonspinning reserve, and replacement or supplemental reserve power. It is well known that geothermal plants can operate 24 hours a day with steady output, regardless of environmental conditions, and represent one of the only options for a renewable, baseload power source.”

” … Few things threaten America’s future prosperity more than climate change. But there is growing hope. Every 2.5 minutes of every single day, the U.S. solar industry is helping to fight this battle by flipping the
switch on another completed solar project.”

Photo Credit: Wind turbines on a hilltop generate electricity for California by HomeAndGardners.co via Flickr ( CC BY SA, 2.0 License)
Photo Credit: Wind turbines on a hilltop generate electricity for California by HomeAndGardners.co via Flickr ( CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

” … As a result of continued technological improvement and domestic manufacturing, wind energy has become one of the most
affordable sources of electricity today and one of utilities’ leading choices for new generation. It has also become a major economic contributor. The U.S. wind industry has attracted up to $25 billion a year in private  investment and generated up to 85,000 jobs, roughly one-third of them in a rapidly growing new U.S. manufacturing sector.”

Increasing Prominence

According to the AWEA blog, “API’s report is the latest indication that energy industry leaders are recognizing renewables’ increasing prominence in our energy mix and how diversified many energy companies have become.”

Ken Johnson, SEIA Vice President of Communications, agreed, “This is an important development. It’s a clear recognition by the oil and gas industry that solar is now a mainstream energy source and an important part of America’s energy future. Inclusion in this report for the first time also gives us additional “street credibility” with policymakers around the nation, who are traditionally aligned with fossil fuel interests. To its credit, API understands the need for our nation to have a balanced and growing energy portfolio.”

All Of The Above

Photo Credit: Oil Rig Promet by Jay Phagan via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)
Photo Credit: Oil Rig Promet by Jay Phagan via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

API President & CEO Jack Gerard gives his own “All of the Above” message on page 2, “Today, different sectors of the economy rely on certain forms of energy. Transportation is largely fueled by oil, while electricity generation is powered by coal, nuclear, natural gas and renewables. Looking ahead a quarter century from now, this is not expected to change, which means each energy source — from oil and natural gas to solar and wind energy; from coal and nuclear to hydropower, geothermal and biomass — will remain essential to successfully meet America’s future energy needs.”

Whether you like Gerard’s message or not, it echoes the sentiment behind the DOE’s current $40 billion loan guarintee:

  • 10% is to go to enewable energy and energy efficiency projects
  • 40% to Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing
  • 30% to advanced nuclear technology & upgrades to existing facilities.
  • 20% to to “support innovative advanced fossil energy projects that avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gases.”

Photo Credit: Cover of 2015 Energy Tomorrow (American Petroleum Institute )

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