A Gallup survey shows high enthusiasm among Americans for renewable energy sources like wind and solar, and a growing number who think the U.S. should put less emphasis on fossil fuels like oil and coal.
But amid the growing concerns about climate change and experts’ beliefs that fossil fuels are largely responsible, Americans wonder whether transforming to green energy would benefit their budget and the U.S. economy as well as the environment. Steve Melink (www.melinkcorp.com), ForbesBooks author of Fusion Capitalism: A Clean Energy Vision For Conservatives, says yes.
“People make the argument that the fossil-fuel energy economy we have has been good to this country,” Melink says. “They like driving the car they have, and they don’t want to change their way of life.
“But there are some serious, well-documented problems with our fossil-fuel-centered economy that we all pay for, and the cost to our health and environment is one we can simply no longer afford to pay. ‘Business as usual’ has run out of time as a plausible option. The time to upgrade to green is now, for consumers and businesses. And along with saving our planet, it would be great business for this country, because we have all the tools necessary to make it a win-win.”
Melink lays out some economic benefits for U.S. consumers and businesses in transitioning from fossil fuels to green energy:
• Reduced costs compared to fossil fuels. “The cost of renewable energy has plummeted to the point where almost every source of green energy is competitive with oil, coal, and gas-fired power plants,” Melink says. “Data trends show that it soon will be no contest, with clean energy easily outdistancing fossil fuels on a simple cost basis.”
• Long-term savings with solar panels. While the initial cost of solar panels can be $10,000 or more depending on the size of the house, their main appeal is the ability to save homeowners money on electric bills in the long run. Some estimates list savings of more than $1,000 per year over a 30-year period. “Photovoltaic cells are the main component that makes up a solar panel, and their best feature is they have no moving parts, thus requiring virtually no maintenance,” Melink says. “Utility rate inflation is an incentive for solar. When you generate your own energy with a rooftop PV system, you’re locking in energy costs at a constant rate. The future of solar, however, will be combined with storage solutions that can provide dependable solar power even when the sun doesn’t shine.”
• Geothermal system efficiency. “A geothermal system doesn’t have to work as hard heating and cooling the home because it uses the constant temperature below the earth’s surface,” Melink says. “It requires some electricity to run, but it returns three to five times as much energy as it requires.” Numbers from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) show that homeowners using geothermal systems may realize savings of 30-70% on heating costs and 20-50% on cooling costs.
• High production potential. Melink thinks the U.S. has the capability of becoming a world leader in green energy production – if more of the business community gets on board. “American companies that invest in renewable energy for themselves will also be investing in what could be a major growth industry for the nation,” he says. “But if American businesses wait to embrace renewable energy as consumers, then we lose the chance to make our country a leader on the production side. Other countries will be eager to take over that role.”
“America is behind in the global picture of renewable energy development,” Melink says. “But the fact is that opportunities to lead this energy boom are, as Rockefeller discovered at the outset of the oil century, particularly grand for Americans.”
Steve Melink (www.melinkcorp.com) is the ForbesBooks author of Fusion Capitalism: A Clean Energy Vision For Conservatives, and founder/CEO of Melink Corporation, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based company considered a pioneer in renewable energy solutions for the commercial building industry.
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