Due to the increasing demand for energy, we are progressively finding more ways of
obtaining cheaper, cleaner, and more effective energy sources. Since the birth of the nation, the
United States has been primarily dependent on obtaining its energy from fossil fuels, mainly
consisting of oil, coal, and natural gas. But due to the limited supply and cost of obtaining these
resources, the price of the fuels has drastically increased. For that reason, scientists and
engineers have been working on advancing technology that would make renewable energy
sources more efficient and affordable.
People have used renewable energy sources to obtain their energy for thousands of years.
The most popular sources of this energy were mainly solar, geothermal, wind, and hydroelectric
power. The use of these resources to gather energy can be dated back to the BC era, but without
machines, the energy demands of these times were modest. The only real need for energy was to
collect heat or to cook food. The spike in the efficiency of these resources occurred during the
Industrial Revolution when energy plants were designed to gather these forms of energy. During
this period of time, the world was converting from hand to mechanical production methods. This
created an urgency to develop the cheapest and most effective approach to collecting energy.
Although the steam engine receives most of the credit for achievements of the era, hydroelectric
power plants were notably influential to the success of the revolution. By the time the Second
Industrial Revolution came around, hydroelectric power plants were responsible for providing
nearly forty percent of the United States' supply of electricity (Bureau of Reclamation).
With the demand of new energy sources comes the demand for effectiveness.
Renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies are driving significant economic growth in
the United States. In 2006, these industries generated 8.5 million new jobs, nearly $970 billion in
revenue, more than $100 billion in industry profits, and more than $150 billion in increased
federal, state, and local government tax revenues (American Solar Energy Society).
Additionally, renewable energy provided important stimulus to the U.S. manufacturing industry,
displaced imported oil, and helped reduce the U.S. trade deficit. Fossil fuel companies must now
compete with renewable energy companies, which will ultimately lower costs of all forms of
If U.S. policymakers aggressively commit to programs that support the sustained, orderly
development of renewable energy, the news gets even better. According to research conducted
by the American Solar Energy Society and Management Information Services, “The renewable