Giving Compass' Take:

• Dr. Joseph Kiesecker unpacks the U.S. energy landscape - mapping everything from coal to renewables and explaining the forces that impact the ebb and flow of different sources. 

• How can funders use this information to guide efforts to transition to renewable energy? 

• Read about the possibility of meeting America's energy needs without fossil fuels

A recent Bloomberg article (Here’s How America Uses Its Land) broke down how the United States is carving up the 1.9 billion-acre land mass of 48 contiguous states into a collage of cities, farms, forests, and pastures that we use to feed ourselves, and create value for business and recreational use.

But noticeably missing was the footprint from energy. This is surprising given that our every move is utterly dependent upon inexpensive and abundant energy. Without it, today’s society would grind to a halt. This is particularly true in the U.S. where the per-person oil, coal, and natural gas consumption is the most of any country, accounting for 21 percent of the world’s energy production.

Since 2010, the United States has been in an energy boom. In 2017, domestic production was at near-record levels—we now produce more petroleum products than any other country in the world—with approximately 1 million active oil and gas wells.

At the same time that the United States is experiencing an oil and gas boom, market forces are transforming U.S. energy systems toward clean, renewable energy that was once a vision touted mostly by environmentalists. Now these energy resources are shared by market purists. Today, renewable energy resources, such as wind and solar power, are at price points that are, literally, driving coal production and coal-fired generation out of business.

The U.S. solar industry has installed 2.5 gigawatts photovoltaic (PV) capacity in the first three months of 2018—resulting in 55.9 gigawatts of total installed capacity, or enough to power 10.7 million American homes.

Wind energy is one of the fastest growing forms of electricity generation in the United States, and according to information from the American Wind Energy Association, wind energy now supplies more than 30 percent of the electricity in four states—Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. With greater than 52,000 utility-scale wind turbines installed in the United States the wind capacity through the end of 2017 was roughly 85 GW—enough to power roughly 25 million average U.S. homes.

Read the full article about the U.S. energy landscape by Dr. Joseph Kiesecker at The Mitchell Foundation.