LOS ANGELES, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) -- The year of 2008 has seen the United
States taking critical steps in developing renewable energy to meet the national
goal of achieving 25 percent renewable energy by 2025.
But most important of all is that the November election of Barack Obama as
the next U.S. president marks a shift in U.S. policy towards reducing gas
Obama pledges to cut U.S. emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and to reduce
them 80 percent more by 2050, and these plans are seen as more stringent than
those advocated by President George W. Bush and former presidential candidate
Sen. John McCain, as well as many in Congress.
Obama's statements have been widely applauded by foreign leaders frustrated
with the recalcitrant attitude of the Bush administration, which walked away
from the Kyoto Protocol immediately upon taking office in 2001.
With Obama as the next president, the United States is believed to be more
dedicated to achieving its renewable objectives which call on biofuels to make
up 30 percent of the gasoline supply by 2030, for 20 percent of power to be
generated by wind, and for solar power to be market competitive by 2015.
To achieve these objectives, the following steps have been taken:
-- In the first substantive vote since gasoline prices rose above 4 U.S.
dollars a gallon this summer, the House approved a package of energy initiatives
in September, including measures that would allow oil drilling as close as 50
miles (80 km) off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and finance the long-term
development of alternative energy sources;
-- More emphasis is being attached to solar energy with the building of the
world's largest solar power plant, 8.5 megawatts, in Colorado, with focus on
photovoltaics-generated solar electricity;
-- Working to add more than 6,000 megawatts of wind power to become the
world's leading producer (currently wind provides about1 percent of U.S.
electricity and efforts are being made to make wind power grow to 29 percent of
U.S. electricity production);
-- Increasing venture investments in renewable energy, with companies
contributing a record 961.7 million dollars in the second quarter of 2008, and
the Department of Energy pledging 14.55 million dollars to six selected
companies for the research, development, and demonstration of advanced vehicle
-- Encouraging companies to take part, with Internet search giant Google
Inc. taking the lead, by fleshing out its 4.4-trillion-dollar plan for a big
push in wind, solar and geothermal power to largely replace fossil fuels;
-- Trying to get consumers to buy hybrid and electric cars, with planned
sales to ramp up from 100,000 in 2010 to 22 million in 2030;
-- More attention is being turned to algae instead of grain to make
biofuels, as scientists are working to turn algae to a green fuel that can be
blended into diesel and gasoline, and perhaps could even replace petroleum-based
diesel and gasoline one day;
-- In addition to algae, biofuel researchers have looked at jatropha -- a
bush that grows in arid environments, needs little water and yields more oil
than corn -- and halophytes, salt-tolerant plants such as seashore mallow to
-- The states of California, Illinois and Wisconsin and six others in
Brazil and Indonesia have pledged to join efforts on new programs for protecting
and restoring tropical forests as an essential, but so far untapped strategy, to
combat climate change, and California adopted the nation's most sweeping plan in
December to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent over the next 12 years.
The nation today generates 2 billion barrels of oil a year, but consumes
6.4 billion barrels. One study showed that there is enough biomass available to
produce the equivalent of 3.5 billion barrels, while today's technology could
produce 2 billion barrels, greatly cutting the U.S. dependence on foreign
Despite the progress being made, Dan Arvizu, head of the National Renewable
Energy Laboratory, said the federal government should have been doing more to
foster renewable energy.
He said states are taking the leadership at a time of opportunity to change
the nation's energy future.
"I see little happening at the federal level. Much more needs to happen,"