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Managing Editor of Energy Tribune Robert Bryce wrote an Op Ed piece for the Wall Street Journal discussing the problem of scale with current alternative energy technology and how natural gas could play an important role for backup generation.

Bryce says the Energy Information Administration reports total wind and solar power generation in 2008 equaled 45,493,000 megawatt-hours. In comparison, total U.S. energy consumption in 2008 grew to 4,118,198,000 megawatt-hours.

That means, renewable resources – wind and solar – produced roughly 1.1% of all U.S. energy needs. To put this in perspective, Bryce equates power generation from these renewables into terms of barrels of oil.

Fast Facts
Energy Production & Use

  
  • Wind & solar in 2008 produced 1.1% of all U.S. energy needs
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  • 76,000 bpd* = Solar & wind power generation
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  • 47.7 million bpd = U.S. primary energy use
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    *Barrels per day     
     
With all current solar and wind power generation, we would still require 47,624,000 barrels of oil per day to power the U.S. at current consumption rates. Doubling, tripling or even quadrupling our solar and wind generation still leaves a massive energy gap.

So while continued emphasis is placed on increasing our renewable infrastructure, there will always be a fundamental need for energy production from oil and natural gas.

We must be able to produce base-load energy whenever renewable power generation isn’t possible. For example, during days in which there is heavy cloud cover, or the wind is not blowing, we’ll still need energy.

Natural gas can produce that energy right now.

Currently, natural gas is used as a primary energy source (providing 25% of U.S. energy needs) and is poised to be the reliable partner fuel we’ll need as we continue to expand our energy mix.

As Bryce says, “the problem of scale means hydrocarbons just won’t go away.” Natural gas is a clean solution to help us bridge the energy gap.

Read the full Op Ed here.

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Doubling, tripling or even quadrupling our solar and wind generation still leaves a massive energy gap.