Randy Shumway – Deseret News
In the last few years, advancements in drilling have enabled the U.S. to surpass Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest producer of natural gas. In addition, the U.S. now produces more wind and geothermal energy than any other country.
Though alternative energy sources still have a way to go before they can fully compete with traditional energy options, advancements and innovation in alternative energy will reduce our impact on the environment while simultaneously driving significant economic activity along the Intermountain West corridor.
The Intermountain West is full of alternative energy potential — from rich natural gas reserves and highly-active geothermal sites, to abundant solar and hydropower.
In 2013, Utah ranked 10th in the nation for natural gas production, with significant untapped potential. Inspired by the fact that over half of all cars in Brazil are fueled by sugarcane-based ethanol, researchers are exploring methods of using natural gas-based ethanol blends to fuel automobiles in the U.S. Studies show that natural gas-based ethanol blends can propel the majority of cars manufactured in the past decade. Using this fuel blend — which can be conveniently pumped from the same tanks as gasoline is pumped today — would substantially decrease both transportation costs and emissions.
But it’s not just natural gas that shows enormous potential for growth. A 2013 study by the International Energy Agency found that the highest growth in energy — 40 percent — will be in renewables, such as wind, hydro, geothermal and solar, which it estimates will make up 25 percent of all energy production by 2018. (…)