Projected Growth of Green Economy

The main renewable energy industries grew 35% last year[14], and revenues should double again this decade, according to the Clean Energy Trends[15], a research and advisory firm based in Portland. Clean Edge, founded in 2000 and based in Portland, is the world’s first research and advisory firm devoted to the clean-tech sector.

More than $9 billion of investment in renewable energy has come to Oregon over the last 16 years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Currently, 44.7 percent of electricity sold in Oregon comes from hydroelectric dams, 33.4 percent comes from burning coal, 11.8 from natural gas, 5.2 percent is wind, while nuclear, biomass, geothermal and others make up the rest, reports GoLocalPDX.

PacifiCorp obtains about two-thirds of its power for its Oregon Pacific Power customers from coal, 13% from gas, and the remaining primarily from wind and hydropower. PacifiCorp’s coal plants are located in Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Arizona, and Colorado.

“During the lifetime of each plant, dollars spent to produce clean, renewable energy in Oregon are dollars spent putting Oregonians to work, while dollars spent on coal-fired electricity are mostly spent on out-of-state fuel,” according to a recent Sierra Club report.

One kilowatt-hour of electricity runs a 1000 watt microwave oven for an hour. It sells for an average of 10 cents nationally.

Grid parity[16] is when renewable energy costs are equivalent to non-renewables such as coal or oil. Grid Parity has been reached in Hawaii, where electricity costs around $.30 per Kilowatt hour (it’s less then 10 cents in Oregon).

Most of the US is expected to reach grid parity by 2015, according to Wikipedia, although gas, oil and coal can generate power on demand and have other advantages such as energy density. Achieving 10 cents per kilowatt hour cost for wind and solar power is achievable in the next few years say experts – but only if there’s lots of wind or sun to harness.

The Oregon Global Warming Commission was created by the 2007 Legislature. Keep Oregon Cool, is their website. A low-carbon economy[17] is generally regarded as essential for maintaining life as we know it. The goal: Zero carbon emissions globally by 2050 [18]. It’s a huge challenge.

Nearly half of the nation’s hydropower electricity comes from more than 250 hydropower dams that were built on the Columbia and its tributaries, reports the Bend Bulletin. “Everybody takes a piece of the Columbia,” said Tom Eckman, a senior adviser to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. “And then they have to collaborate and cooperate over its resources, or fight over them.”

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council develops a 20-year electric power plan that will guarantee adequate and reliable energy at the lowest economic and environmental cost to the Northwest. Based in Portland, Oregon, it was created in 1980 when the U.S. Congress passed the Northwest Power Act. The Northwest Power Act is intended to provide conservation and efficiency in the use of electric power.

World Oil Reserves

Coal, which is mostly used to fire electric generating plants, is the worst green house emitter, but the world’s vehicles mostly run on oil and gas. The United States imports most of its gas, but the amount has been dropping thanks largely to the oil discoveries in North Dakota.

Some 24 billion barrels may be available in the Bakken formation in North Dakota. By way of comparison, the Ghawar Field in Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest and contains an estimated 70 billion barrels in remaining reserves while new discoveries off the coast of Brazil contain an estimated 30 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

Arctic Drilling Protests

Exxon partnered with Russian state oil producer Rosneft for exploration in the Arctic’s Kara Sea. Oil resources in the Kara Sea are estimated to be comparable to those of Saudi Arabia. Russia’s state oil producer acquired Mobile’s off-shore drilling expertise and assistance in a profit sharing deal.

But drilling was suspended after the sanctions by Washington and the European Union that ordered companies to cut off help to Russian oil exploration in the Arctic. President Vladimir Putin’s goal was to secure Russia’s energy dominance by exploring the Arctic.

The Chukchi and Beaufort Arctic seas, where Shell Oil intends to drill in 2015, contain an estimated 26 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 130 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. That’s more than 30 times America’s annual imports from OPEC, according to The New York Times Magazine.

On July 30, 2015, when the Shell Oil icebreaker MSV Fennica left dry dock to continue drilling activities in the Arctic, Greenpeace activists lowered themselves farther down from the St Johns bridge in an effort to stop the vessel.

The Bakken Oil formations in North Dakota and Montana is the largest oil discovery in U.S. history. The Bakken oil boom is already producing a million barrels a day.

The tar sands in Northern Saskatchewan are another huge discovery. The oily sand can be scrapped off the earth’s surface, although separating the sandy soil from the oil is problematic. If all the Saskatchewan plans come to fruition, five companies could be producing over 3.3 million barrels a day of oil from oil sands by 2028.

The oil reservoirs in North Dakota shale, the Arctic reserves (and Canada’s tar sands) could move the United States towards energy independence. But at what cost? Fossil fuel, by definition, is not sustainable…and it’s proven to cause environmental change at unprecedented pace.

The fracking process and directional drilling have freed up oil previously locked 6,000 feet below the surface. Here are two videos from opposing sides of the fracking controversy:

The vision is simple: utilize non-polluting energy resources, derived from hydro, sun, wind and heat to lower green-house gases and enable a long-term sustainable economy without harming the environment.

NEXT: Energy Map


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