America’s Energy Future: Oil, Natural Gas and Nuclear

America’s energy future is not in solar and wind power. Rather our energy needs are best met by oil, natural gas and nuclear power.

Let’s look at the current numbers to see where Americans get their energy from.

Here is a chart showing how much U.S. energy is produced by coal and coal byproducts.

Energy source Billion kWh Share of total
Coal 899 21.8%
Petroleum (total) 19 0.5%
Petroleum liquids 11 0.3%
Petroleum coke 7 0.2%

Here is a chart on how much of our energy is produced by solar and wind.

NOTE: hydropower is classified as a renewable. 1. Take away hydropower and wind and solar only account for 12.5% share. 2. When the sun goes down and the wind stops blowing, solar and wind fail to produce power:

Energy source Billion kWh Share of total
Renewables (total) 792 19.8%
Wind 338 8.4%
Hydropower 291 7.3%
Solar (total) 91 2.3%

 According to U.S. Energy Information Administration 80.9% of our total energy needs are met by oil, natural gas, coal, hydroelectric and nuclear power.

Energy source Billion kWh Share of total
Total – all sources 4,116
Fossil fuels (total) 2,504 60.8%
Natural gas 1,575 38.3%
Coal 899 21.8%
Petroleum (total) 19 0.5%
Petroleum liquids 11 0.3%
Petroleum coke 7 0.2%
Other gases3 11 0.3%
Nuclear 778 18.9%
Renewables (total) 826 20.1%
Wind 380 9.2%
Hydropower 260 6.3%
Solar (total) 115 2.8%
Photovoltaic 112 2.8%
Solar thermal 3 0.1%
Biomass (total) 55 1.3%
Wood 37 0.9%
Landfill gas 10 0.2%
Municipal solid waste (biogenic) 6 0.2%
Other biomass waste 2 0.1%
Geothermal 16 0.4%
Pumped storage hydropower4 -5 -0.1%
Other sources5 12 0.3%

America’s Future is Nuclear

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) there are, as of December 31, 2020, 94 nuclear reactors operating at 56 nuclear power plants in 28 states. Thirty-two of the plants have two reactors, and three plants have three reactors. Nuclear power plants have supplied about 20% of total annual U.S. electricity since 1990.

America has not built any new nuclear power plants since 1990.

The EIA notes:

The United States generates more nuclear power than any other country

In 2019, 31 countries had commercial nuclear power plants, and in 14 of the countries, nuclear energy supplied at least 20% of their total annual electricity generation. The United States had the largest nuclear electricity generation capacity and generated more nuclear electricity than any other country. France, with the second-largest nuclear electricity generation capacity and second-highest nuclear electricity generation, had the largest share—about 70%—of total annual electricity generation from nuclear energy.

Nuclear energy is clean, efficient and reliable. It is also carbon free.

If America, like France, made the wise decision to begin building nuclear power plants to meet 100% of our power we would need to build an additional 500, plus or minus, nuclear power plants.

This national initiative would allow the United States to then use its oil and natural gas resources to fuel our cars, SUVs, trucks, trains, airplanes and other gasoline and diesel driven equipment, such as generators, and become energy independent.

We could also export all of our coal for use by other nations to meet their energy needs.

American consumers will continue to buy new and used vehicles powered by internal combustion engines. Thus we as a nation must maintain and expand our ability to produce our own oil via on and off-shore drilling and fracking.

As more consumers go to all electric vehicles (EVs) and the charging stations needed to keep them running, whether in the home or on the road, the strain on our electric grid will increase.

We need more, not less, cheap and reliable power to fuel our economy, our communities and our nation.

Not to provide cheap and reliable power will lead to what we are seeing now, war in Ukraine.

The Bottom Line

America’s power lies in its ability to provide power to the engines of our current and future economic growth.

Starving America of power, makes America powerless. Starving our citizens of cheap and reliable power is a direct threat to our fiscal and national security.

To be powerful America needs powerful sources of energy. Nuclear, oil (for gasoline, diesel and aviation fuels) and natural gas are the best and most accessible means to energy independence.

Energy independence translates into life, liberty and the pursuit of our collective happiness.

Without cheap and reliable power sources the lights in that city on the hill will most certainly go out – for everyone.

Powerup America.

©Dr. Rich Swier. All rights reserved.


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