Renewable Energy Debate

March 15, 2019 • Volume 29, Issue 11
Can alternative sources replace fossil fuels?
By Matt Mossman


Renewable energy sources, including wind turbines and solar panels, provide nearly one-fifth of the nation's power, and some experts contend that by midcentury the United States could generate all its electricity without burning polluting fossil fuels. Already, California aims to largely eliminate fossil fuels as an electricity source by 2045, and Hawaii wants to use renewables for all its electricity needs on the same timetable. Supporters say broad adoption of renewable energy — not only in the United States but also globally — is imperative to stave off the worst effects of climate change. But a transformational shift toward renewables faces big hurdles. Technological advances are required for the electrical grid to handle the uneven flow of power from wind and sunlight, and the country still lacks a national policy embracing renewables. Liberal Democrats are pushing for a Green New Deal that would mandate a shift away from fossil fuels, but they face stiff opposition from conservatives and some moderate Democrats.

Wind turbines and solar panels (Getty Images/Moment Mobile/Connie Spinardi)
Wind turbines and solar panels generate energy for homes in the Palm Springs, Calif., area. Increasing use of wind and solar energy helped double the country's renewable energy capacity between 2008 and 2017. (Getty Images/Moment Mobile/Connie Spinardi)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Alternative Energy
Mar. 15, 2019  Renewable Energy Debate
Sep. 29, 2006  Biofuels Boom
Feb. 25, 2005  Alternative Fuels
Nov. 07, 1997  Renewable Energy
Jul. 09, 1993  Electric Cars
Jul. 10, 1992  Alternative Energy
Mar. 26, 1982  Solar Energy's Uneasy Transition
Nov. 20, 1981  Wind and Water: Expanding Energy Technologies
Aug. 31, 1979  Synthetic Fuels
Nov. 12, 1976  Solar Energy
Mar. 14, 1973  New Energy Sources
Aug. 14, 1968  Steam and Electric Autos
Jan. 22, 1929  Federal Water Power Policy
Oct. 08, 1928  Status of the Muscle Shoals Project
Jan. 26, 1927  The Colorado River Problem
Air Pollution
Climate Change
Congress Actions
Consumer Behavior
Economic Analyses, Forecasts, and Statistics
Electric Power
Energy and the Environment
Energy Conservation
Energy Policy
Land Resources and Property Rights
Manufacturing and Industrial Production
Motor Vehicle Industry
Oil and Natural Gas
Party Politics
Renewable Energy Resources and Alternative Fuels