How America Could Transition to Renewable Energy


“Wind turbines” by ali_pk is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

By: Quan Nguyen, Journalist

The issue of transferring from fossil fuels to renewable energy has been a long-standing issue in many countries, largely the countries within the E.U and North America. Renewable energy has been subsidized in many places, but this has yet to create all that much change. So, what can the U.S Government do to switch the power grid over to renewable instead of fossil fuels?

Firstly, there must be an intermediate between fossil fuels and pure renewable fuels. The first thing that comes to mind for some, of course, is nuclear power. Nuclear fusion is on the horizon, but for the purposes of this article we will be focusing on nuclear fission power. Experts estimate there is enough fissile uranium in current supply to last more than 90 years, as well as more that may be mined from the earth. This represents a huge amount of assured supply in comparison to other materials. Nuclear power is remarkably safe in the modern era, with only 32 total deaths ever being caused as a direct result of nuclear accident.

So, why hasn’t America and other countries built more nuclear power plants? Well, the answer is simple. There has and will always be a stigma against nuclear power, but even more than this is the fact that nuclear power plants are costly to build and require a large amount of construction planning before hand and even more work to construct once all resources are acquired and in place.

Finally, nuclear waste disposal. One nuclear power plant requires thousands of megatons of ore to be mined for uranium every year, though the payoff in high power generation is quite large. Of course, used nuclear fuel generates low and high level waste, as well as the process that goes into producing the fuel in the first place. Storage for high and low level wastes are still in the process of construction in the U.S.

However, a new type of nuclear power is approaching on the horizon, called nuclear fusion. Nuclear fusion is the same process that occurs at the center of stars, such as the Sun. Nuclear fusion could be highly efficient, using fuel that is safer and more commonly available than fissile material; with no risk of a runaway reactor.

Overall, nuclear power (both fission and fusion) present a good stepping stone for switching over to fully renewable power, and finally phasing fossil fuels out of usage permanently.