The 21st Century Energy Challenges
By 2030, global demand for energy will be 50 percent more and 25 percent more in the United States than in 2008 according the U.S. Department of Energy. Combined with the challenges of climate change, forecasted depletion of fossil fuels and calls for energy security, it is clear that more than one solution is needed. Nuclear power and renewable energies are part of the answer and can provide a domestic solution with less CO2.
The United States and Canda face demanding energy challenges with a growing imbalance between production and demand. While both have abundant natural resources, including substantial oil and gas reserves, it remains far from self-sufficient.
The considerable growth in energy demand expected over the next two decades presents multiple challenges, including the need for energy independence, security of supply, and economic development. These demands are coupled with an ever growing need to reduce the carbon emissions generation by energy production.
In order to meet these energy challenges, a comprehensive approach is needed. A combination of nuclear energy and renewable generation must be part of the solution to move North America toward reliable power generation with less carbon.
Investing in North America's Energy Future
Investing in infrastructure and manufacturing sectors is critical to protecting the American and Canadian way of life. America’s power generation currently lacks critical investment similar to other infrastructure such as transportation and information systems. But, investment in the energy sector is necessary to continue economic growth and development and to build essential infrastructure such as high-speed rail, electric cars and desalination plants.
Development of low-carbon technologies such as nuclear energy and renewables creates thousands of jobs today, spurs investment in local communities and reduces America’s dependence on fossil fuels and imported sources of energy. Focusing only on short-term factors does not provide the infrastructure and economic backbone for future generations.
Nuclear energy is critical to tackling the 21st century’s greatest energy challenges by enhancing energy security and helping combat climate change. The United States has the world’s largest nuclear sector with 104 reactors that produce approximately 20 percent of the nation’s electricity and over 70 percent of the nation’s carbon-free energy. Nuclear power currently supplies 15 percent of Canada's electricity needs.
Nuclear energy generates base-load energy without emitting carbon and is a critical component in the fight against climate change. It is a cost competitive source of domestic energy generation offering protection from the volatility of fossil fuel and CO2 prices. The nuclear industry continues to improve safety, technology and efficiency by incorporating important return on experience.
In 2009, renewable sources of energy, including hydropower, accounted for around 10.5 percent of total U.S. energy consumption* and the United States is looking to double its renewable energy capacity in the coming years. In Canada, renewable energy sources currently provide about 16 percent of Canada's total primary energy supply.
Renewable energy sources – like solar, wind and biomass— are sustainable, produce energy without emitting carbon, and provide increased energy security. Because wind, sun, and biomaterials can be found domestically, these sources provide greater energy independence and do not face the price volatility of fossil fuels. The construction of a wind farm, biomass or solar facility has a fast track construction timeline and can begin creating jobs now.
* According to the most recent issue of the “Monthly Energy Review” by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energy (i.e., biofuels, biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric, solar, wind) provided 10.51% of domestic U.S. energy production during the first nine months of 2009 – the latest time-frame for which data has been published