U.S. dedicated to developing renewable energy
www.chinaview.cn 2009-01-01 08:46:37   Print

    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 emissions.

    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 technologies;

    -- 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 make biofuels;

    -- 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 sources.

    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," Arvizu said.

Editor: Wang Hongjiang
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