Can the United States have 25 percent of the total energy it consumes come from renewable sources by 2025?
It’s a lofty goal, but it has tremendous support. An initiative known as 25x’25 is now working to make it a reality.
The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation is part of a coalition of more than 300 groups that are backing the program, which also has the support of Congress.
“This is not a silver bullet. But it’s a great, coordinated plan,” said Dale Arnold, OFBF director of energy services.
Arnold said the plan looks to a wide range of renewable energy sources that can be produced in Ohio such as wind and solar. The program also looks to produce energy from biomass, which includes livestock waste, crops and other plant material.
“We’re not going to be dominant in one particular type of fuel or energy source,” Arnold said. “We’re going to be a player in several.” Ohio’s access to the electrical grid makes it an ideal location to produce energy from renewable sources, Arnold added.
The arguments in favor of developing renewable energy are numerous. With the United States projected to import up to 70 percent of its oil within the next two decades, and two thirds of the world’s oil produced in the Middle East, national security remains a concern.
In addition to clean energy from solar and wind sources, biofuels can help reduce pollutants including carbon monoxide, particulate matter and toxic emissions.
Backers of the initiative estimate that by 2020, wind energy alone could create 80,000 new jobs and $1.2 billion in new income in the United States. Arnold said Ohio is second only to California in its capacity to manufacture the parts used in wind turbines.
While farmland will be required for many of these energy sources, the 25x’25 vision includes “continuing to produce safe, abundant and affordable food, feed and fiber.”
“The greatest challenge for our generation is to meet our energy demands and continue to prosper,” Arnold said.
Bill Richards, who farms near Circleville and is co-chair of the national 25x’25 steering committee, said that this is not just the start of another energy organization. He is optimistic that farmers, conservation and environmental groups will be able to rally around a solution to America’s energy problems.
“Expensive energy is just going to bring a whole different world to all of us,” he said.
America’s renewable energy potential
Hydropower – Flowing water that is used to spin turbines already provides nearly 7 percent of U.S. electricity. It is the nation’s largest renewable energy source.
Wind – About 6 percent of the contiguous U.S. land area is considered good for installing wind turbines. This area has the potential to supply more than 150 percent of the nation’s current energy needs. Turbines take up only a small portion of that area, allowing the land to remain in use for agriculture.
Solar – Installing solar panels over a high sunlight area of about 100 square miles could meet the United States’ current demand for electricity.
Biofuels – Ethanol made from corn and other plant material and biodiesel made from soybeans could replace 25 percent of U.S. gasoline and diesel use by 2025.
Geothermal Energy – It is estimated that thermal energy that is carried in very hot water via wells or fissures in the earth’s crust will be able to provide 10 million households with electricity within 10 years.