Both summer and winter experience intense demand for energy, but energy is vital year round for growth and progress. Many of us envision a greener world, asking the question, “What will the most economical and environmentally friendly energy source of our future be?” We wanted the public to narrow down which energy source they would prefer to power the U.S.


Aii Asks: What is your preferred source of energy if you could only have one source (or paired sources) for the whole country?


You answered: 50% Nuclear, 20% Wind & Solar, 20% Hydropower & Geothermal, and 10% Oil & Natural Gas

Of those polled, the grand majority preferred nuclear energy. In the U.S., nuclear makes up 3.3% of the nation’s energy mix, wind  10.1%, solar 1.7%, hydropower 45.8%, geothermal 0.6%, oil 0.2%, and natural gas 18.5%.

Although nuclear energy is a non-renewable energy source, it is recyclable and a low-carbon source of energy dissimilar to coal, oil, and gas power plants. Nuclear reactors generate close to one-third of the world’s carbon free electricity and are crucial in meeting climate change goals. Spent nuclear fuel can be recycled to make new fuel and byproducts. Did you know that on average, a single fuel assembly spends about five years in a reactor? Also, the total amount of nuclear waste that has been created since the 1950’s is about equal to the size of an American football field and 10 yards deep. By comparison, a single coal plant generates as much waste by volume in one hour as nuclear power has during its entire history.

Next, Wind & Solar and Hydropower & Geothermal tied for second place. In 2017, Nature Energy published an article speculating how wind power growth outpaced declines in wind’s marginal emission benefits leading to large growth in avoided emissions. Avoided emissions from solar also grew from increases in total generation and marginal benefits. As for hydropower and geothermal energy, hydropower currently accounts for 31.5% of total U.S. renewable electricity generation and about 6.3% of total U.S. electricity generation. While geothermal energy is renewable, reliable, and requires very little maintenance, it is less common due to being location-restricted.

Wrapping up, Oil & Natural Gas are essential for America’s needs. According to a U.S. Natural Gas Benefits Report by, natural gas is responsible for more than one-third of the electricity needed for daily essential services, and tens of millions of Americans rely on oil and natural gas to heat their homes and on clean-burning natural gas to cook their food. Oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids are still projected to account for the majority of U.S. energy consumption two decades from now, despite the steady growth of renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and biomass.


Written by Andrew Jefferis, Media Coordinator


The Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure (Aii) is an independent, national research and educational organization. An innovative think tank, Aii explores the intersection of economics, law, and public policy in the areas of climate, damage prevention, energy, infrastructure, innovation, technology, and transportation.