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Evolution of Solar Energy in US Research Paper


Solar energy in the US has gone through various transgressions over the years. This paper looks at the various transgressions that it has undergone. This paper will focus on the evolution of oil as an energy sector in terms of its consumption and production. This will be analyzed using graphs and a discussion of the data provided. A conclusion on the same will be provided at the end of the paper.


The policy of solar energy in the US is established by the federal, public entities and the state that addresses energy issues of production, consumption like the standards on gas mileage. The policy on energy may comprise of international treaties, legislation, energy conservation guidelines, investment incentives and other techniques in public policy. Over the years, some proposals have been made on various mandates.

An example is a proposal that the US should never import a large amount of oil as in 1977 (Parra 85). There has been no policy on oil that is comprehensive in the long-term; although a great concern has been issued on this failure. 1922, 2005 and 2007 saw the passing of three policy Acts on energy. This was made up of a number of provisions for energy conservation for instance Energy Star program and energy development program, which contained financial inducements and incentives and renewable and nonrenewable energy tax incentives.

The United State has not endorsed the Kyoto Protocol since they prefer reduction of carbon emission to be determined by the market so that global warming is reduced to manageable levels. A number of proposals have been made on reforms on energy policies that are aggressive, including the requirement for a decrease of the emissions from carbon dioxide. Cleaner, renewable and sustainable development on energy has also been encouraged.

During the colonial era, policy on US energy was that free timber use for industry and heating. In the course of the 19th century, an approach to coal and its transport use and heating, was highly emphasized. Whales were turned into lamp oil. Gas produced from coal was later limited to lighting use (Bahrman 46).

In 1986, lighting was effected by Natural gas in America. Its importance has grown to usage in the industry, power plants and homes. In 1973, the extraction of natural gas reached its highest level. From then on, the prices have gone up considerably

The US solar energy demands were achieved by coal in the 20th century. Most of the homes in the urban areas had a bin of coal and a furnace of coal. However, demand for petroleum products have surpassed demand for energy produced from coal. This is because they are easy and safe to use and not because they are cheap. Coal has always been cheaper than oil to date. Automobile industry has emerged as the main consumer of oil.

After World War II ended, boilers utilized in heating oil replaced steam engines run on energy derived from coal. Moreover, electricity plants that utilized petroleum were constructed. Later on, electric cars that utilized oil replaced buses run on gasoline

During the energy crisis in 1970, majority of discourses in the US focused on the importance of using solar energy as a viable source of energy. The Federal Energy Department was tasked with the responsibility to formulate strategies that would later be adopted to enhance the use of renewable energy technologies.

For example, the maximum speed allowed for all automobiles was set at 89km/h as one way of reducing demand for oil. This measure would also result in a reduction of the amount of carbon emissions in the environment. In 1978, an energy Act was initiated which resulted to alternative energy forms.

About 84% of US energy is received from fuels. This energy is consumed for industry, domestic use and transport. The rest of its energy is acquired from hydro stations and nuclear stations. The US citizens make up about 4.9% of the world’s total population but the country’s economy uses up to 24% of the total oil produced globally to meet the growing demands of its industrial sector.

On the other hand, the US has a mere 2.9% of the world’s total reserves. Its offshore drilling activities produces a paltry 5.9% of the total world supply.. Oil is mainly consumed in the form of diesel and gasoline for cars, trucks and buses in the US (Parra 78).

Also, the US automobile industry consumes over 60% of the total energy used in the country. The US is also a major producer and exporter of food stuffs. However, in 2008, it started plans to convert over 17% of its grain produce to ethanol to meet energy demands. For example, over 24.9% of corn was converted to ethanol. The percentage the directed corn oil to fuel is, therefore, expected to rise.

Utilities have increased their rates to yield more profits that would offer them a sustained profit, estimated at of 12.7% with respect to cost of operations. Changes in the costs of operation in the production of electricity streamline directly to the consumer. The US government has provided considerably bigger subsidies than to renewable energy in the period of 2002 to 2008.

The production of the world grain went up by 250% when the Green revolution turned agriculture internationally amid 1950 and 1984. Green revolution energy was given by fossil fuels in fertilizer form. Critics of Malthus are thus, rendered irrelevant since the global supply of hydrocarbons continues to increase unabated. For example, the US imports a significant amount of energy from Canada.


US Proven Oil Reserves graph

Fig. 1

Source: Veziroglu, Nejat. Alternative Energy Sources: Solar energy. Washington: Hemisphere Pub. Corp e

It is evident in the above figure that oil reserves in the US increased up to 1970 and then started to reduce. The level of oil in the reserves has varied over the years. There was minimal consumption of oil up to 1970 when the rates of consumption increased making the level of oil in the reserves, reduce greatly.

Petroleum use had overtaken demand for coal energy in 1950s. The rising demand for oil products in the US was attributed to the discovery of petroleum deposits in Oil abundance Oklahoma California, and Texas. The country was able to use advanced technology to extract oil deposits in these areas at a lower cost.

US Oil Production and Imports graph


Source: Veziroglu, Nejat. Alternative Energy Sources: Solar energy. Washington: Hemisphere Pub. Corp

The above figure shows that the production of oil reached its peak in 1970 and started declining. By 2005, the amount of petroleum imported in 2005 doubled the domestic extraction of oil. This increase in imports and production shows how the need for oil has grown and fluctuated over the years.

The increase in oil imports shows how much oil is needed in US for consumption as they are among the leading countries in oil consumption. The rise in oil production by US proves how much oil was produced in the US. As petroleum imports rose, US foreign policy adopted a political tone in the Middle East. The US was more preoccupied with protecting the Persian Gulf while at the same time supported Saudi Arabia, one of the major oil-producing countries in the world


Oil occurs naturally, is flammable, and it contains a compound blend of hydrocarbons of different molecular weights, and organic compounds obtained in geologic formations under the surface of the earth. Petroleum deposits are via a drilling process. Afterwards, it is separated and refined through a heating process. There are a number of products such as plastics, kerosene, paints, and fertilizers that are produced from petroleum. It is also applied in the production of a range of materials.

Oil greatly differs in its outlook with regard to its constitution. It is normally dark brown or sometimes black. In the reservoir, it is found combined with natural gas, which creates a gas cap on top of petroleum as it is light (Beattie 41). Oil may also be uncovered in a semi-solid form combined with water and sand.

Oil is mostly used in the production of energy. Over 82% of hydrocarbons found in petroleum are converted into energy fuels such as diesel, jet gas, and petrol. Lighter grades of oil manufacture the harvest of these products, however, the global reserves of oil have been depleted hence oil refineries are gradually having to manufacture oil and bitumen, using very costly and complex methods in the manufacture of the required products.

Since the mid 1950s, petroleum products have been used as the major source of energy because they in plenty of supply, yield more energy and are portable. Oil is the raw material for a number of petroleum is the main source of a number of derivatives such as plastic products, fertilizers, chemicals, pharmaceutical products, among others (Behrman 95). One of the main sites that petroleum deposits are abundant is porous rocks found in the upper part of the earth’s crust.

Oil is a combination of very big numbers of various hydrocarbons; alkanes are molecules that are found commonly. There are different types of oil, based on the diverse mix of molecules that represent the physical and chemical futures of the oil. For example, oil extracted from the earth may differ in terms of color and viscosity. Alkenes are referred to as paraffin and are hydrocarbons that are saturated with branched chain or straight chains that only contain hydrogen and carbon with a general formula of CnH2n +2.

Oil is composed of liquid, solid and gaseous hydrocarbons. A well of oil generates primarily crude oil, with a quantity of gas coming out of the solution can be burned to produce gas. The ratio of hydrocarbons in the oil mixture greatly differs in different fields.

Alkenes and a variety of aromatic hydrocarbons are the major components of petroleum while other organic composites are made up of sulfur, oxygen nitrogen and several metallic elements such as copper and iron. The precise molecular composites greatly vary, but the quantities of chemical components differ over rather narrow boundaries.

There are deteriorating amounts of benchmark oils that are produced every year, so oil is majorly what is delivered. The real oil that is traded may be reduced to Canadian oil delivered at Alberta. The oil industry is engrossed in global processes of refining, extraction, transporting, and exploration, and advertising oil products.

The biggest products in terms of volume are petrol and fuel oil. As noted above a number of household and industrial products such as pesticides, solvents, plastics and pharmaceuticals are made from petroleum. Oil is a vital raw material to majority of industries in the United States and other countries around the world. All economies of the world are run completely on oil. The world’s consumption of energy is accounted for by oil (Parra 56). In consumption, patterns in Central and South America are 44% while in America is 40%.

For example, the US economy used up about 23% of the total world oil supply in 2004 although this figure fell marginally in 2007 to about 20.9%. Majority of the industries operating in the United States are located in California, Nevada, and Washington and Hawaii states. They mainly produce, refine, advertise, transport and distribute petroleum products such as diesel, fertilizers gas and other derivatives to consumers.

Oil has been consumed since the olden days and is very significant across different societies, even in economy, technology and in politics. The rising demand of petroleum is due to the major technological advancement in the automobile industry, the transformation of the aviation sector and the increased use of plastic materials in economic activities. Ignacy Lukasiewicz invented the process of distilling kerosene from petroleum.

This gave a cheaper option in the whaling of oil. There has been a tremendous increase in global demand for oil for lighting purposes in the 21st century. The military hostilities witnessed not only during the World War II but also in the major parts of the Arab world are attributed to oil. During the twentieth century, the exploration of oil in America made the user a leading producer in 1900. As the production, of petroleum in US reached its peak in 1960, but it is the time that US was outdone by Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Today, almost 90% of the fuel needed by vehicles is from oil. 40% of the total consumption of energy in US is met by oil. It is accountable for just 1% of the production of electricity. US are among the top three countries in oil production. Big amounts of the total oil in the world subsist as unconventional sources.

Whereas enormous oil reserves are extracted from oil sands, most notably in the United States, a number of challenges such as logistical and technical still abound since it requires enormous amounts of heat and water to extract petroleum from the earth’s crust. As a result the offshore drill exercise done in the US is not sufficient to meet the country’s enormous demand for petroleum.

This implies that the US has to rely on oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia to meet its oil demands. After the downfall, of the pricing systems managed by OPEC in 1985, and a net back pricing experiment that was short-lived, the countries that export oil implemented a mechanism that is market linked (Behrman 32). In 1988, this approach was enormously endorsed and is now the main method used to determine the value of crude oil in the international market.

The agricultural sector has recorded enormous growth as a result of rising demand for fertilizers, pesticides, and other farm implements such as tractors and combined harvesters. Almost all the fertilizers and pesticides are made from oil. When oil is burned, it releases carbon dioxide. When oil is burned together with coal, it becomes the biggest contributor to the enhancement of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Since the occurrence of the Industrial Revolution, atmospheric carbon dioxide has risen progressively, impelling global warming.

The amount of oil spilled in the course of accidents has varied from a few tons to thousands of tones. A great impact on the ecosystem has previously been proven by smaller spills. Sea oil spills normally cause more harm than the spills on land, because they can for many nautical miles and spread in thin slicks of oil that have coated the beaches (Beattie 43). This is very dangerous to the life of sea birds, shellfish, mammals and various organisms that it covers. Oil spills control is hard and needs ad hoc methods, and a big amount of labor.

The demand for petroleum in the 21st century is attributed to the growth seen in the automobile sector. Although the 2008 financial crisis affected a number of sectors in the economy including the automobile industry, statistics reveal that the number of vehicles produced and sold during this period increase marginally.

It has been projected that future oil exploration activities are likely to decline since oil producing countries- in spite of the fact that they have enormous reserves- are experiencing rising cost of extraction. The discovery of new oil reserves normally result to high costs of extractions which may render the whole exercise meaningless. The need for advanced extraction technologies that will reduce extraction costs cannot be understated

According to Herbert’s Peak theory, the production of oil in the near future will eventual reach a maximum level then drop further as reserves are depleted (Vietor 66).

The year 1965 is known to have been the peak of oil discoveries globally and the and afterwards, the production of oil has exceeded oil discoveries each year since 1980. Hubbert used this theory to forecast US oil production at the peak on a date from 1966 to 1970. This forecast was based on the available data at a moment in his 1956 publication. It is hard to forecast the peak of oil in any region because of ignorance or accounting transparency in the international oil reserves.

According a number of scholars based at Oxford University, majority of OPEC members submitted highly inflated oil reserve reports in 1980s due to competition from other oil producing countries. The International Energy Agency articulates that conventional crude oil production in US peaked in 2006. Given that almost all economic sectors depend majorly on oil, peak oil may lead to total market failure.

Besides conversation, more energy is consumed every year. Energy powers a continuous technology array that makes life simple, enjoyable and productive. Even though, we need to minimize our use of oil, and opt to alternative sources of energy that are renewable, we should not limit ourselves to using it but rather find a good way of powering it.

Figures 1 and 2 in this paper have shown that there have been remarkable changes in oil consumption. The two figures are related in the sense that they both result to oil consumption in US (Veziroglu 56). An increase and a later decrease in the level of oil, in the reserves, coincide with an increase and a later decrease in the production and importation of oil. In other words, they both agree that the consumption of oil has increased over the years.


It is evident that solar energy is not a new idea. During the Industrial Revolution, it was questionable whether there will always be abundance in fossil fuels. If solar energy had been put to use several years ago, solar heating panels could not be opted for as an alternative that would reduce costs (Vietor 13).

The price setting of energy is now the most common system due to competition. A high risk of a borrowed cost of capital has been foreseen because of the market volatility and the future cost of energy. With the current economic situation, we cannot handle subsidies that are directed to financial burdens of the consumer. Economical and solar marketing career may be the best alternative to go for in the future solar energy evolution.

Works Cited

Beattie, Donald. History and overview of solar heat technologies. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1997.Print

Behrman, Daniel. Solar energy: the awakening science. London: Routledge & Kegan, 1979. Print

Parra, Francisco. Oil politics: a modern history of petroleum. London: Tauris, 2004.Print

Veziroglu, Nejat. Alternative Energy Sources: Solar energy. Washington: Hemisphere Pub. Corp., 1879. Print

Vietor, Richard. Energy Policy in America since 1945: A Study of Business-Government Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987. Print

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