While the energy sector of an economy relies primarily on fossil fuels, and this is certainly true of the US, the focus is shifting toward ecologically sound alternative sources of energy. This is in keeping with global awareness of the potential long-term damaging effects of fossil fuels on the environment. This shift toward alternative energy sources may be seen by some as too little, too late, but many welcome any and all initiatives to address the damage being done. Companies are developing social responsibility programs and making these public, and an increasing number of investors are paying attention to these reports when making investing decisions, bearing in mind that a significant number of ordinary citizens are turning to green/ethical consumerism.
The United States is the undisputed leader in total energy consumption per annum, and its energy usage has increased by more than 300 percent since 1950. In 2005 it was estimated that roughly 40 percent of US energy consumption came from petroleum, 23 percent from natural gas and 23 percent from coal, with nuclear power supplying about 8 percent and renewable energy sources such as hydroelectric dams, wind-power, solar energy and geothermal making up the balance of around 6 percent – a situation which is being addressed as a matter of urgency.
US President Barack Obama has been quoted as saying that the US is entering a new era of energy exploration with the development of renewable energy sources and energy efficient products. Certainly, investors are sitting up and taking notice of this. The US Department of Energy is making every effort to reduce the country’s dependence on oil, especially from imported sources. Among the options being explored are modernizing the US energy infrastructure to support alternative fuels, such as biomass and bio-fuels, as well as harnessing the power of nature’s renewable resources such as wind, geothermal and hydro energy. Companies pioneering energy efficient technology and alternative energy resources have the potential of doing really well in the future.