Renewables now at 7 percent
As of 2007, renewable energy sources supplied only a tiny sliver of US energy supplies, about 7 percent. (Petroleum supplied 40 percent, coal 22 percent.) Of that renewable sliver, energy from biomass (such as corn ethanol) accounted for 53 percent, hydroelectric 36 percent, geothermal 5 percent, wind power 5 percent, and solar energy 1 percent.
The Obama administration has set ambitious goals for the energy portion of the stimulus plan. Of the 3.7 million jobs that the plan is supposed to create or save, about 460,000 would come from energy-related expenditures. A large but undetermined portion of those jobs would be in the renewable-energy sector.
“A new energy economy is going to be part of what creates the millions of new jobs that we need,” Mr. Obama told reporters last month. “That’s why my economic recovery plan is going to be focused on how can we make a series of down payments on things we should have done 10, 20, 30 years ago.”
The money would represent a big boost to alternative-energy industries. For OptiSolar, a manufacturer of solar panels in Hayward, Calif., the stimulus package cannot come soon enough. With credit hard to get and customer demand falling, the company laid off 300 workers this month, about half its staff.