The USA is a technologically advanced country with a huge and very stable economy. It is a developed and heavily industrialized country with a great demand for power and energy required by its industries and its large population These and other factors have contributed to development of various power production resources. Solar and wind are among the diverse power resources in the USA.
Solar Power The U.S. is among the top countries in the world in electricity generated by the sun and several of the world’s largest small-scale installations are located in the desert Southwest. Solar power includes small-scale solar power plants as well as local distributed generation, mostly from rooftop solar panels.
The United States conducted much early research in solar devices and concentrated solar power. There are plans to build many other large solar plants in the United States. Many states have set individual renewable energy goals with solar power being included in various proportions.
Solar power accounts for about 1% of the total national generation capacity. It is mainly exploited in the sunny areas of the country which include Nevada and California states. Wind power is a branch of the energy industry expanding quickly over the last several years. U.S. Wind Generation (KW) by Year Wind power accounts for 4% the total energy produced in the USA. Texas is firmly established as the leader in wind power development, followed by Iowa and California. Wind power is used to run farms, industries and for generating electricity that is fed to the national grid. Solar power and Wind power play a mojar role of U.S.A life’s as follow:-
1. Source of employment: Solar and wind energy industry is more labour-intensive. The industry supports thousands of people in the USA. The wind energy industry employs many Americans in a variety of capacities, including manufacturing, project development, construction and wind mill installation, operations and maintenance, transportation and logistics; and financial, legal and consulting services. The solar energy industry employs people in jobs including solar panel installation, manufacturing and sales.
2. Industrial development: The energy and power generated from resources such as coal, uranium, petroleum and water are very expensive compared to wind and solar energy. The abundance and availability of cheap energy from wind and sunlight promotes industrial development.
3. Agricultural development: Wind and solar power is commonly used in large farms to supply electricity required for such activities as pumping water, lighting and heating. This has, in turn, promoted large-scale agriculture in the country.
4. Conservation of non-renewable energy resources: Depending on renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and hydroelectricity for power and energy generation helps to conserve the non-renewable energy sources such as gas, coal and petroleum. This ensures that these non-renewable energy resources do not run out or become exhausted soon. They are conserved for future uses instead.
5. Reduced environmental pollution: Exploitation of non-renewable energy resources, such as petroleum, coal, and wood, releases harmful gases to the atmosphere which pollutes the environment. Harnessing and use of wind and solar energy do not pollute the environment. Thus, generating sufficient power and energy from these resources will help reduce environmental pollution that could otherwise result due to dependence on non-renewable resources.
6. Improved standard of living: People employed directly and indirectly in the wind and energy industry earn cash which they spend on their daily needs as well as other amenities. Solar and wind energy is cheap and hence affordable to many Americans. So, people who had no access to the costly hydroelectricity and thermal electricity are now able to use this cheap power and energy. This has helped improve their living standards.
7. Development of other sectors of economy: Growth in power and solar industry creates positive multiplier effects. For example, industries in the renewable energy supply chain, such as those manufacturing windmills and solar panels, will benefit. The growth of industries involved in the manufacture of wind and solar energy equipment depends on the growth and existence of the solar and wind generation industry. Also local businesses will benefit from increased household and business incomes.
8. Generation of revenue: Local governments collect property and income taxes and other payments from energy project owners. These revenues can help support public services, especially in rural communities, where projects are often located. Owners of the land on which wind projects are built also receive lease payments as well as payments for the rights to transmit electricity through their land. Also they may earn loyalties based on projects’ annual revenues.
9. Stabilisation of energy prices in future: Wind and solar energy is providing affordable electricity across the country right now, and can help stabilize energy prices in future. The costs of solar and wind energy technologies have declined steadily, and are projected to drop even more. For example, the average price of a solar panel has dropped significantly. The cost of generating electricity from wind is also declining gradually. The wind and solar energy projects require initial investments to build but once established they operate at very low costs and to most technologies the fuel is free. As a result renewable energy prices are relatively stable over time.
10. Diversification of energy supplies: Using more wind and solar energy can lower the prices and demand for natural gas and coal by increasing competition and diversification of energy supplies. Generation of energy from different resources ensure that the supply is not interrupted in case one resource is finished or exhausted. This ensures constant availability of power and energy. Therefore, wind and solar energy helps to diversify the energy supply in the country.
11. Reliability and flexibility: Wind and solar energy supplies are less prone to large-scale failure because they are distributed and modular. Distributed systems are spread out over a large geographical area, so a severe weather event in one location will not cut off power to an entire region. Modular systems are composed of numerous wind mills or solar panels. Even if one of the equipment is damaged the rest can typically continue to operate.
12. Sustainability: For as long as the sun shines and the wind blows, the energy produced can be harnessed to send power across the grid. The Problems Facing Power and Energy Harnessing in Focal Countries