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National Academies: U.S. energy at a crossroads

If changing the U.S. energy supply to be more secure and sustainable is like steering a massive ship, then the direction we set it on today won’t be fully felt for 10 or 20 years.

The National Research Council, the operating arm of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering, on Monday released a report called “America’s Energy Future” that seeks to focus the country’s discussion on energy and draw attention to the most promising technologies.

One of the messages from the report is that long-term problems require sustained strategies and a break from business as usual. Technology has a big role to play, but none of the academic and business experts who authored the study expects a single fix.

“One of the committee’s conclusions is that there is no technological ’silver bullet’ at present that could transform the U.S. energy system through a substantial new source of clean and reasonably priced domestic energy. Instead, the transformation will require a balanced portfolio of existing (though perhaps modified) technologies, multiple new energy technologies, and new energy-efficiency and energy-use patterns,” wrote Harold T. Shapiro, the chair of the committee on America’s Energy Future.

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