Renewable Energy: Energy security

Renewable Energy: Energy security

By By Robert & Sonia Vogl

Why should you attend the Illinois Renewable Energy Fair at the Ogle County Fairgrounds on August 10 & 11? Nearly 30 years ago, we endured our first major disruption in oil supplies from the Middle East. The oil embargo stimulated efforts to use energy more efficiently and develop renewable energy sources.

While we made substantial technological progress in efficiency and renewable energy, our oil dependency has increased dramatically. Since 1984, our oil consumption has increased 33 percent while our oil production dropped 30 percent. Crude oil imports are up 175 percent, and Middle East imports doubled.

Over 60 percent of our energy needs are served by oil and natural gas. One of the presentations at the August Illinois Renewable Energy Fair will explore the implications of the increasing global reliance on these sources. Michael Vickerman of Renew Wisconsin will highlight the concerns about this global dependency in his informative presentation entitled: “Petroleum—Have We Hit the Peak?”

Since transportation is the major consumer of oil, it makes sense to try to establish other energy sources to serve this need.

At the Illinois Renewable Energy Fair, Bill Moore, editor of the website EV World, will discuss the current status of electric, hybrid electric, and fuel cell vehicles and the role they might play in our transportation future.

Meet Mike Clark at the Energy Fair, busy converting a diesel Rabbit Volkswagen to run on used cooking oil from fast food restaurants. His efforts highlight the potential of biofuels to serve our transportation needs, establish energy independence and stimulate the farm economy.

Jennifer Johnson will explain at the Energy Fair the connection between fossil fuel consumption and global warming. Efficiency is the quickest, least costly way to rapidly expand energy supplies while minimizing environmental damage.

Over the past 25 years, we have cut the energy intensity of the U.S. economy by 40 percent. We continue to save energy at a rate of 3.2 percent per year. If the economy grew at a similar rate each year, economists and political leaders would beam with pride.

Most of these energy savings come from improving building insulation, lighting and motor designs and building cleaner, safer cars. Additional savings of over 30 percent can occur by simply installing existing efficiency improvements.

Some workshops at the Fair will focus on improving the energy efficiency of homes and businesses. James Cavallo will report on residential and appliance efficiency programs in Illinois. Dan Alway will discuss energy-efficient appliances for grid-connected and grid-independent homes. James Lamb will stress the importance of making one’s home energy efficient before installing a solar electric system.

Energy efficiency is not limited to individual households. A well-insulated IGA store in Soldiers Grove, Wis. gets all of its heat from the sun and the waste heat from the refrigeration compressors in the store. In Osage, Iowa, the building code calls for stud walls of 2×6 construction so high levels of insulation can be achieved. The town of 3600 people saves $1.2 million per year through efficiency.

John Root of Muscatine Power in Iowa at the Fair will advise home owners, business interests and industries how to use energy efficiently. His presentation, “Developing an Energy Efficient Community,” should stimulate participants to encourage their communities to use energy more efficiently.

The full list of workshops appears in a full-page ad in this issue. Visit to register for the Fair; bring your friends. Major sponsors of the Fair are the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation and Commonwealth Edison.

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