There seem to be at least three schools of thought on what "renewable" energy is



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TOPICALITY
The words in the topic ("Resolved: that the federal government should establish a policy to substantially increase renewable energy use in the United States") are fairly clear. While there are areas of potential argumentation on other terms (policy vs. program, for example), the critical term seems to be "renewable" energy.
There seem to be at least three schools of thought on what "renewable" energy is.
1. "It doesn't runs out." Renewable energy is energy which is easily replaced, reproduces itself, or "doesn't run out." By this approach sources such as solar and wind would be clearly renewable energy, but other energy forms such as geothermal energy and energy efficiency would not be.
2. "It comes from natural forces." The shining of the sun, the motion of the wind, the cycle of the tides, the power in plants, all of these are basic energy inputs which come from the solar system and our planet and the movement of both. Once again, the common forms would be included, but other forms such as energy efficiency and nuclear breeder reactors would be excluded.
3. "Anything but fossil fuels or normal nuclear." Some energy forms produce energy by transforming matter which is in limited supply, such as fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, coal) and uranium, which are "burned" as "fuel" for "energy" AND it takes a long, long time to get them back. Nobody argues that millions of years from now current landfills may be fossil fuels, or that uranium is being created in the universe, just as nobody should argue that the sun is not renewable because it will run down in a few billion years. But, within a relevant time scale, fossil fuels and uranium are gone once we "burn" them, while solar energy, biomass, wind power, geothermal energy, as well as things like energy efficiency and conservation can be harvested over and over again.
The definitions below approach these different interpretations and then apply them to specific energy sources. There are some broad inclusive definitions, and then some specific evidence about some of the more peripheral energy sources, such as energy efficiency and geothermal energy.
Find the approach which you feel is intellectually and linguistically valid and apply it to the debate round. I expect that this year will entail fewer topicality arguments than most years, but we all know that some teams will argue that nuclear breeder reactors are "renewable energy" while other teams will argue that the sun isn't renewable because it will run out in a few billion years. I suspect that there are enough good opportunities for debate on the more substantive and central techniques and processes which are called "renewable energy."
-Alfred C. Snider
TOPICALITY

DEFINITIONS OF RENEWABLE ENERGY


DEFINITION: RENEWABLE ENERGY IS SUSTAINABLE AND FROM A NATURAL ENVIRONMENT
Canadian Chemical News, November 21, 1996; Pg. 16; TITLE: Power of the sun; Solar Energy Society of Canada Inc. // VT98-acs

Renewable energy is defined as "any sustainable energy source that comes from the natural environment".


DEFINITION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY - INEXHAUSTIBLE
Bill Schroer, The Denver Post, February 10, 1997; Pg. C-02, TITLE: Renewable energy matures Colorado's high plains well-suited for solar, wind and biomass power // VT98-acs

What is renewable energy? It is energy that cannot be exhausted because it is derived directly from the sun or the earth's basic anatomy:

It is heat from the sun or earth - geothermal.

It is fuel stored in plant mass - biomass.

It is electricity generated from wind or sunlight.
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TOPICALITY

ENERGY EFFICIENCY IS TOPICAL
INCREASED EFFICIENCY INCREASES THE USE OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
JOHN BERGER, National Research Council, 1997; CHARGING AHEAD: THE BUSINESS OF RENEWABLE ENERGY AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR AMERICA // VT98-acs p. XV

Reducing on-site energy demand-and therefore the size of the energy system needed locally-lowers system costs and thereby increases the market for renewable energy systems. In the words of Senior Scientist Dr. Donald Aitkin at the Union of Concerned Scientists, "efficiency makes renewables affordable." By contrast, without energy efficiency, ever-growing energy demand will drive energy costs up while undermining environmental progress toward cleaner air.


INCREASED ENERGY EFFICIENCY MEANS A DIRECT INCREASE IN OTHER FORMS OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
JOHN BERGER, National Research Council, 1997; CHARGING AHEAD: THE BUSINESS OF RENEWABLE ENERGY AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR AMERICA // VT98-acs p. 244

Renewable energy systems tend to have high initial (capital) costs and low operating costs. Because energy efficiency reduces our peak need for energy and the size of energy systems required, the high first-cost barriers blocking many renewables would fall. This is another important connection between renewable energy and energy efficiency.


ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND RENEWABLE ENERGY MUST BE LUMPED TOGETHER
JOHN BERGER, National Research Council, 1997; CHARGING AHEAD: THE BUSINESS OF RENEWABLE ENERGY AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR AMERICA // VT98-acs p. XIV

Why have I chosen to include energy efficiency technology and electric vehicles in a book on renewable energy? Electric vehicles are included because electric propulsion is a "bridge" technology that extends renewable energy into the transportation sector. While we can't plug today's gasoline-powered cars and trucks into the electric power flowing from a wind turbine generator or from a solar electric panel (or solar power plant), electric vehicles can be connected to renewable electricity easily. Similarly, alcohol and diesel fuels derived from the solar energy stored in plants can operate common internal combustion engines. Energy efficiency is included because it reduces both energy demand and the environmental impacts of energy use.


ENERGY EFFICIENCY IS THE BEST SOURCE OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
JOHN BERGER, National Research Council, 1997; CHARGING AHEAD: THE BUSINESS OF RENEWABLE ENERGY AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR AMERICA // VT98-acs p. 243

No discussion of energy policy options would be complete without including energy efficiency, a measure of work or services derived per unit of energy. Efficiency is unquestionably the best energy resource covered in this book, because it is cost-effective, profitable, safe, clean, and dependable. The greater the efficiency, the less energy required. Its use entails no sacrifices or lifestyle changes, as we will see, yet public health and safety are improved.

TOPICALITY

GEOTHERMAL ENERGY IS NOT TOPICAL


GEOTHERMAL ENERGY IS NOT RENEWABLE
JOHN BERGER, National Research Council, 1997; CHARGING AHEAD: THE BUSINESS OF RENEWABLE ENERGY AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR AMERICA // VT98-acs p. 236

As to the sustainability of geothermal power, deep geothermal energy is not renewable in the same sense that solar and wind energy are constantly replenished by the sun. Geothermal reservoirs do lose heat and pressure when energy is extracted from geothermal zones, and they may also lose water, if it is not reinjected.


GEOTHERMAL ENERGY RESERVES ARE NOT RENEWABLE BECAUSE THEY BECOME DEPLETED
JOHN BERGER, National Research Council, 1997; CHARGING AHEAD: THE BUSINESS OF RENEWABLE ENERGY AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR AMERICA // VT98-acs p. 236

Some depletion of geothermal reserves has already occurred at The Geysers, which peaked in output a few years ago at about 2,000 megawatts. Depletion occurs most rapidly if a reservoir's heat-bearing fluid is removed and is not sufficiently replaced by reinjection. Any resource will in time become depleted if energy is extracted faster than it can be replenished. Some high-quality energy is degraded during power production, however, leading to an eventual reduction in the field's capacity, even with reinjection.

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TOPICALITY


GEOTHERMAL ENERGY IS TOPICAL
DEFINITION: RENEWABLE ENERGY INCLUDES GEOTHERMAL
Fred J. Sissine, Science Policy Research Division, Congressional Research Report, September 1, 1996, TITLE: RENEWABLE ENERGY: A NEW NATIONAL OUTLOOK? // VT98-acs

Renewable energy is derived from resources that are generally not depletable, such as the sun, wind, and water movement. These sources of natural energy can be converted into usable energy in several ways. There are a number of relatively mature technologies for conversion of renewable energy such as hydropower, biomass, and waste combustion. Other conversion technologies, such as wind turbines and photovoltaics, are already well developed, but have not achieved the technological efficiency and market penetration of which they are expected to be ultimately capable. Although geothermal energy is produced from geological rather than solar sources, it is often included as a renewable energy resource. This report includes geothermal energy as one renewable energy source.


TOPIOCALITY

NATURAL GAS AND LANDFILL GAS ARE NOT TOPICAL


RENEWABLE ENERGY COMMUNITY REJECTS NATURAL GAS AS A PART OF IT
Irving M. Mintzer, Center for Global Change; Alan S. Miller & Adam Serchuk, Renewable Energy Policy Project. 1996; TITLE: The Environmental Imperative: A Driving Force In The Development And Deployment Of Renewable Energy Technologies, http://solstice.crest.org/renewables/repp/ //VT98-acs

While some members of the renewable energy community see the advent of cheap natural gas as a threat, other environmentalists argue that any technology able to replace old, dirty coal plants and nuclear power stations merits support.


NATURAL GAS DOESN'T QUITE MAKE IT INTO THE RENEWABLE ENERGY CATEGORY -- MASSACHUSETTS EXAMPLE
Edward Holt, Regulatory Assistance Project, 1997; TITLE: Disclosure And Certification: Truth And Labeling For Electric Power: Competition, Green Marketing and Green Power; http://solstice.crest.org/renewables/repp/ //VT98-acs

Massachusetts is considering a system benefits charge for renewables. Proposals have been made to include fuel cells fired by natural gas (which is a cleaner fuel than coal and oil, but not as clean as most renewable energy resources) because they would improve the environment in the near term and provide a bridge to a more sustainable future in the long term. But to many, being greener is not sufficient to qualify as being green.


LANDFILL GAS IS NOT RENEWABLE -- IT RUNS OUT AFTER DECADES
Universal News Services, November 27, 1996, TITLE: LANDFILL GAS A WORLD-BEATING SUCCESS SAYS RICHARD PAGE // VT98-acs

"It is quite clear that landfill gas will continue to be produced for decades from waste already disposed of, whatever the longer-term position of landfill as a suitable means of disposing of waste, and I urge British companies to make use of such opportunities by building on their achievements. Our guide produced today will help them in a market which, world wide, represents at least L5,000 million of investment opportunities." [Energy Minister Richard Page]


AFFIRMATIVE CASES
We offer here a good start at evaluating the basic pro-renewables approach as well as two specific proposals, both of which are fairly unconventional but very topical.

Just examine the various sections, no matter what your affirmative case is, and you will find many of the inherency, significance, and solvency evidence which you will need. A First Affirmative speech could be constructed here in a simple format:

I. Inherency-Plan-II. Solvency-III. Advantages

GREEN PRICING is the first plan suggested. The idea is that since the electric utility industry is in the process of deregulating itself (choose power company like you choose a phone company), now would be a good time to require utilities to offer to their customers a "Green Pricing" option where customers could agree to pay slightly more if their power was coming from environmentally friendly renewable energy. Making sure that customers can choose renewable energy will greatly increase its mainstream use.

DISCLOSURE & CERTIFICATION is the second plan suggested. Once again, assuming utility deregulation, consumers will be put in a position to choose their power provider, and this will lead to a lot of confusion by consumers. This approach would require each electric utility to disclose to customers how much energy they are supplying from dirty sources and how much they are supplying from renewables. Power companies will compete on the basis of being "environmentally friendly" to attract customers, and thus the use of renewable energy will increase if utilities have to certify their power mix and disclose it to their customers. It helps the market for renewable energy sources work better.
6-12 INHERENCY: Barriers to renewable energy in the status quo

HARMS: Harms if fossil fuels and advantages of renewable energy

13-14 General

15-21 Oil dependency

22-24 Global warming

25-32 Air pollution

33 Developing world

34-47 GREEN PRICING

48-56 DISCLOSURE & CERTIFICATION

SOLVENCY: Renewable energy use is the answer for our energy future

57-66 General renewable energy solvency

67-71 Wind

72-76 Solar

77-81 Biomass

82-83 Efficiency

84-85 Transportation

AFFIRMATIVE INHERENCY

STATUS QUO WILL CONTINUE TO INCREASE ENERGY USE FROM CURRENT SOURCES


EMERGING WORLD ENERGY SYSTEM WILL EMPHASIZE FOSSIL FUEL, HYDROELECTRIC, AND NUCLEAR
Heinrich von Pierer, chairman of Siemens AG, Power Engineering, October, 1996; Pg. 58; TITLE: Efficiency improvements are critical for a bright tomorrow // VT98-acs

A balanced worldwide energy supply is only possible by using technologies that are available and also easily applied in less developed countries - fossil-fueled power plants and, where possible, hydroelectric plants. In many regions, particularly in the rapidly developing Asia-Pacific, as well as in the Americas and Europe, nuclear power plants will continue to be built as well. New generations of pressurized and boiling water reactors will offer further improvements in operating safety.


RENEWABLE ENERGY WILL GROW AT AROUND 2% A YEAR OVER THE NEXT 20 YEARS
The Washington Quarterly, 1996 Autumn; Pg. 71, TITLE: Policy Forum: Energy Futures // VT98-acs

Natural gas and renewable energy sources (hydroelectricity, geothermal, solar, wind, and other renewable resources) are expected to be the fastest growing energy sources over the projection period, at 2.0 and 2.3 percent per year respectively. The increase in natural gas use reflects efforts to reduce pollution and carbon emissions by switching to cleaner fuels. Growing support for research on renewable energy technologies in the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and rising demand for electric power in nonOECD countries are the principal factors underlying the rapid growth of renewable energy use in the forecast.


THE STATUS QUO WILL REMAIN A HOSTAGE TO UNSTABLE MIDDLE EAST OIL
Alan Tonelson and Beth Lizut, U.S. Business and Industrial Council Educational Foundation, The Washington Post, September 15, 1996, Pg. C02, TITLE: If We Kicked the Oil Habit, Saddam Wouldn't Menace Us // VT98-acs

IT'S BEEN business as usual lately in the oil-rich Persian Gulf: Iraq's assault on a Kurdish faction, America's retaliatory strikes and the June bombing of an American military barrack in Saudi Arabia. It's also been business as usual in American energy policy as well, with Congress likely to vote soon to keep federal efforts to develop oil alternatives at nearly trivial levels. As a result, our energy future will remain hostage to events in this chronically unstable region.


PRIMARY ENERGY DEMAND WILL SKYROCKET ALL OVER THE WORLD
Gustavo Gonzalez, Inter Press Service, September 13, 1996, TITLE: LATIN AMERICA: U.N. REPORT FORECASTS LARGE OIL INVESTMENTS TO 2010 // VT98-acs

The most spectacular increases in the demand for primary energy will be seen in East and South Asia, particularly in China. Within developing regions, Latin America will surpass only Africa.


POPULATION GROWTH AND ORBANIZATION GUARANTEE THAT WORLD ENERGY DEMAND WILL INCREASE
Stefan Halper, is host of NET Television's "World Wise" and a former White House and State Department official, The Christian Science Monitor, October 18, 1996, Pg. 18 // VT98-acs

More broadly, the problem is anchored by two powerful trends. First, by 2020 the world's population is expected to increase by 50 percent with well over half of these new inhabitants born in Latin America and Asia. Migration to the cities and the mechanics of urbanization - commuting, construction, and powering new buildings - will all demand huge amounts of energy. A doubling of China's and India's urban populations alone could increase per capita energy consumption in those countries by 45 percent


GLOBAL COAL AND NUCLEAR USE IS EXPECTED TO DROP SLIGHTLY
Gustavo Gonzalez, Inter Press Service, September 13, 1996, TITLE: LATIN AMERICA: U.N. REPORT FORECASTS LARGE OIL INVESTMENTS TO 2010 // VT98-acs

Concern for the environment will cause the proportion represented by coal to drop slightly. But the most significant drop will be experienced by nuclear energy, which grew at an annual rate of 15.9 percent from 1971 to 1991, and is now projected to fall to a rate of 1.3 percent a year.


INHERENCY

RENEWABLE ENERGY DEVELOPMENT IS SEVERELY HAMPERED BY FUNDING SHORTFALLS


RENEWABLE ENERGY IN THE USA IS IN A SAD STATE OF AFFAIRS
AGIS SALPUKAS, The New York Times, March 9, 1997, Section 4; Page 5; TITLE: Inheriting the Wind; Green Power Wanes, but Not at the Grass Roots // VT98-acs

But in the past five years, the promise of renewable power has become a distant hope. Incentives provided by state regulators and utilities have disappeared. Federal research funds have been cut by a budget-conscious Congress. The industry itself has stumbled. Kenetech's newest turbines were flawed, according to a stockholder lawsuit and some industry analysts, and the company's wind subsidiary was forced to seek bankruptcy protection.


GOVERNMENT AND PRIVATE ENERGY R&D HAVE BOTH DECLINED
Christine Ervin Assistant Secretary Energy Efficiency And Renewable Energy, Federal News Service, MARCH 19, 1997, TITLE: Prepared Statement Before The House Committee On Science Subcommittee On Energy And Environment // VT98-acs

In 1995, our Secretary of Energy Task Force, under the chairmanship of Daniel Yergin, told us that federal support for energy R&D had declined more than three-fold in real terms in the past 15 years, and that private sector energy R&D had fallen off sharply. That situation has not changed.


RENEWABLE ENERGY DEVELOPMENT DEPENDS ON NEW FORMS OF FINANCING
Angus Gova, Inter Press Service, September 27, 1996, TITLE: ZIMBABWE: SOLAR SUMMIT -- TALK OR ACTION? // VT98-acs

However, the development of renewable energies requires much more money from both government and the private sector. Innovative new financing opportunities must be created, including micro financing, and the need to attract private capital to supplement the insufficient public resources.


INHERENCY

GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY IS INSUFFICIENT


RENEWABLE ENERGY FUNDING IS STATIC OR DECLINING
Mark Crawford, New Technology Week, February 10, 1997, TITLE: Science, Tech budgets Can't Escape Squeeze // VT98-acs

With few exceptions, the White House budget package for research and development reflects the ongoing realities of the federal budget climate. Like all discretionary accounts, science and technology are being squeezed by the growing cost of debt service and entitlement programs. The Clinton administration, on a macroeconomic basis, is trying limit the damage by holding spending levels for many programs, but this provides no relief from the erosive effects of inflation.


FEDERAL RENEWABLE ENERGY FUNDING IS NOW STATIC
Alan Tonelson and Beth Lizut, U.S. Business and Industrial Council Educational Foundation, The Washington Post, September 15, 1996, Pg. C02, TITLE: If We Kicked the Oil Habit, Saddam Wouldn't Menace Us // VT98-acs

Deep cuts for alternative energy programs were averted in mid-summer when the House and Senate restored most of the spending cuts approved by their respective appropriations committees. Still, funding is set to remain at modest levels for the near future. For example, the budget for the clean car program (currently spread among several agencies) will probably remain at about $ 300 million. And the Energy Department's total research efforts on new transportation technologies will probably be cut from nearly $ 207 million in 1996 to just under $ 200 million for 1997.


CONGRESS DOES NOT WANT TO PUT RENEWABLE ENERGY AS A PRIORITY UNLESS THEY SEE BENEFITS IN THEIR OWN CONSTITUENCIES
Global Warming Network Online Today, December 5, 1996, TITLE: RFA Encourages Biomass, Liquid Fuel Alliance // VT98-acs

However, he [legislative director of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Bob Dinneen] also noted that this widespread popular support is not mirrored in the U.S. Congress, where only those "members who recognize the economic benefit to their community" generally support renewable energy -related initiatives.


CONGRESS WANTS CUTS IN RENEWABLE ENERGY SPENDING
Gary Lee, Washington Post Staff Writer, The Washington Post, September 25, 1996, Pg. A03, TITLE: Government Researchers Fear Budget Cuts Will Cool Solar Energy Work // VT98-acs

Yet, in the last two years, Congress has questioned the wisdom of the investment. In 1995, a GOP-led campaign to trim the federal budget slashed the 1996 budget for NREL, including funding for solar and other photovoltaics projects, from $ 237 million to $ 167 million. A General Accounting Office report issued last April acknowledged the success of the photovoltaics industry but raised doubts about whether federal funding for renewable energy sources has yielded as big a payoff as was reported, prompting a push last summer for additional budget cuts. Proponents of the cuts, led by Rep. Robert S. Walker (R-Pa.) argued that corporations are collecting too many federal funds and should assume more of the financial burden for research.


CONGRESS CUT FUNDING FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY IN FISCAL 1997
Gary Lee, Washington Post Staff Writer, The Washington Post, September 25, 1996, Pg. A03, TITLE: Government Researchers Fear Budget Cuts Will Cool Solar Energy Work // VT98-acs

Apparently unconvinced by such arguments, Congress approved a slight decrease in funding for research and development in solar and other renewables for fiscal 1997, to $ 269 million a year. (The Pentagon budget, by comparison, is $ 256.6 billion for 1997.)


FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS CUTTING PROGRAMS TO DEVELOP TECHNOLOGIES WE WILL NEED TO FIGHT GLOBAL WARMING
David Lore, science reporter, The Columbus Dispatch, September 22, 1996, Pg. 7C., TITLE: WAITING TO PAY FOR CHEAPER TECHNOLOGIES IS FOLLY // VT98-acs

It seems that it takes money to develop the kind of ''silver-bullet'' technologies that we'll be counting on to save the atmosphere, the polar ice caps and maybe even Florida before the end of the next century.

Yet, energy department spending on energy supply research programs would decline 38 percent if Congress sticks to its seven-year deficit reduction plan, the American Association for the Advancement of Science says.
RENEWABLE ENERGY FUNDING HAS NEVER BEEN SUFFICIENT, AND REPUBLICAN ADMINISTRATIONS IN THE 1980's KILLED IT
Alan Tonelson and Beth Lizut, U.S. Business and Industrial Council Educational Foundation, The Commercial Appeal (Memphis), September 22, 1996, SECTION: VIEWPOINT, Pg. 4B, TITLE: Oil habit keeps United States entangled with Iraq // VT98-acs

But compared with such major national research efforts as the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars) or the Apollo space program, these sums were a pittance. Even worse, nearly all energy research and development programs were gutted by President Reagan in 1982. His successors have pushed for only modest increases.

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