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Will Falling Oil Prices Kill Wind and Solar Power?

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The price of oil has plummeted from more than $100 a barrel in July to less than $50. Meanwhile the U.S. has become the world’s leading producer of natural gas, helping the country become more self-sufficient on energy.

Will this abundance of fossil fuels derail the world’s shift to renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar power? And what does this shifting energy landscape mean for the role of fossil fuels in the U.S. energy mix? And what about nuclear power-should concern of the safety of nuclear waste trump the benefits of exploiting this noncarbon-polluting source of energy?

During your time at the Department of Energy the deployment of renewable energy in the U.S. doubled.

Right now renewable electricity is roughly 13 percent of total electricity generated in the U.S. Half is hydropower and the other half is mostly wind energy, with some solar, biomass and geothermal.

Perhaps in a decade, renewables will be competitive with any new form of energy in many parts of the U.S. What do you think is the biggest energy problem today?It’s a combination of things.

As renewable energy becomes an increasingly larger fraction of the total energy, the cost of standby electricity and storage becomes part of the cost of renewables.

The energy density of batteries is getting better-today there are batteries about 60 percent higher in energy density-i.e., with more energy for a given weight and volume-than the batteries of 15 to 20 years ago.

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Article originally posted at www.scientificamerican.com

Post Author: Carla Parsons

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