Probably when the government starts giving more subsidies to green energy as opposed to fossil fuels. From 2002-2008 the United States government gave $70.2 billion dollars in subsidies to fossil fuels, compared to only $12.2 billion to renewable energy. This is bad news, considering how much research still has to be done on renewables to make them competitive.
Obama is planning to cut some fossil fuel subsidies and give more to green energy in 2012, however. It’s not going to be enough to fix the problem overnight, but it’s definitely moving in the right direction.
At 19.5 million barrels a day and $85 per barrel, the US spends about 605 billion dollars on oil per year. $70 billion over 6 years is about $12 billion a year – just under 2% of the cost.
When US consumers stop using fossil fuels, renewables can come to the fore. That is not likely to happen until fossil fuels become so expensive that the American public rebels and is forced by the cost to seek something else. That could be in a few years – in which case renewables will not be able to even come close to providing the needed energy, and the only choice will be high prices and inadequate supplies – or in a few decades, in which case some degree of replacement via renewables may be able to happen. In any case there is no possible way for the liquid fuel needs of the US to be met by all types of renewables combined – not even close. Even if every acre went to corn and it all went to make ethanol, it would not be enough to supply our present liquid fuel needs. As electric vehicles increase, so do needs for electricity. The only short term way to scale up electricity generation significantly is to mine and burn more coal. That will probably be the case for some time (a few decades).
Both points above are very correct. Another point that was mentioned was the concept of the market. The market plays a strong role in controlling the prices of calamity. Once more industry builds around the idea of renewable energies, I’m sure the cost will go down further than it has already.
Another point is people, people want clean energy but aren’t willing to spend the money to put a solar panel on the roof of there house. Demand will rise soon enough once the price goes down and the above points occur.
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