What are the different sources of energy that the U.S. consumer uses? Fossil fuels continue to fill the bulk of America’s needs for energy. Here’s the breakdown:

• Fossil fuels: 86 percent

• Petroleum: 40 percent

• Coal: 23 percent

• Natural gas: 23 percent

• Nuclear electric: 8 percent

• Renewable energy: 6 percent

• Biomass: 2.8 percent (wood wastes, landfill wastes, ethanol, etc.)

• Hydroelectric: 2.7 percent

• Other (geothermal, wind and solar): about 0.5 percent

The renewable energy sources included are biomass (wood, wood waste, municipal solid waste, landfill gas, ethanol and other biomass); geothermal; wind; solar (solar thermal and photovoltaic); and conventional hydropower.

What is the future for renewable energy?

“I believe that the U.S. government, in partnership with the private sector, has an obligation to fully develop this sector,” says Bobby Coats, Arkansas Extension economist.

“Since the new global economy has produced large swings in economic activity, the private sector should have some level of continuing support from our government. From an energy security perspective, this country can’t afford not to fully develop this sector.”

Coats said that a significant weakness of the United States and other developed countries of the world is the lack of mastery over renewable resources.