We’re always writing about the immediate and long-term benefits of renewable energy, specifically, solar power. While we may be a little biased, the advantages of investing in renewable energy sources are countless. There’s one big question we have to ask ourselves, then: why aren’t we using more renewable energy? In a time where countries and governments around the globe are committing to solar power, wind energy, and other forms of renewable power, why does the U.S. seem so behind the curve? While the U.S. does generate more renewable energy than almost all other countries (second only to China) it still only accounts for 14% of our total energy consumption, meaning we’re still reliant on fossil fuels to make up the other 86%. In fact, even countries you’ve probably never heard of before are using renewable energy in higher percentages than the United States (looking at you, New Caledonia – 14.4%, Reunion – 19.7%, Mauritius – 23.8%, Gabon – 45%, and Lesotho – 99%!). Multiple countries can account for almost all of their energy coming from renewable sources, and even more are well on their way with less than 10% of their energy coming from fossil fuels. This week, we’re looking into that dangerously low 14% renewable energy consumed by the U.S. by outlining the two biggest reasons the country is reluctant to invest in it: lack of market entry capability and the fossil fuel industry outspending renewable energy companies. Next week, we’ll talk about other hindrances to renewable energy production and what the future will look like both if we start relying on renewable, and if we don’t.

Big Oil Butting In
The biggest hindrance to renewable energy legislation passing in the United States is, you guessed it, oil and gas companies! Turns out, lobbyists for big oil, gas, and coal companies are the root of almost all issues surrounding renewable energy bills. In fact, an article from the Union of Concerned Scientists entitled “Barriers to Renewable Energy Technologies” names both market entry and an unequal playing field as the two leading causes for low renewable energy use in the United States. Market entry, or lack thereof, refers to the willingness for energy companies to switch from other long-standing methods, namely coal, oil, and natural gas. Unfortunately, the wealthier coal, gas, and oil industries benefit from the current infrastructure of most energy systems, so renewable energy must prove itself capable of large-scale energy production in ways that the system in place does not to prove its worth to investors. Plus, there’s the initial cost of switching current systems to run on renewable sources. Even though renewable energy saves money in the long run, many energy companies are content to keep with the status quo, relying on oil, coal, and natural gas instead of making an Earth-saving switch.

The unequal playing field, however, refers to the fact that the United States spends approximately $37.5 billion in subsidies for oil companies alone on an annual basis. That money has funded research and development, mining, drilling, and electricity generation, and frees up the funds for oil and gas companies to create campaigns which spread false or misleading information about renewable energy. Commercials and ads in oil and gas rich states commonly refer to renewable energy sources as unsightly, cost ineffective, or unreliable to maintain the status quo and keep citizen reliant on fossil fuels, even though we know the implementation of renewable energy sources is actually lower cost, more reliable, and in our humble opinion, one of the most beautiful sights in the world. It’s the landscape of innovation, and we’re here to help build it!

Look out for next week’s blog as we uncover even more of the barriers to renewable energy implementation in the United States, and learn what the future holds both if we choose to make the switch and if we don’t. If you’re inspired to jump on the renewable energy bandwagon, call J-Tech Solar today to learn more about residential or commercial solar panels for your home or business!