Solar and wind energy are great alternatives to oil. In terms of the amount available, they are enough to last humanity till it exists. And, in terms of the technology and research required to use them, it is quite easy to harness them. There are a few issues though which need to be resolved before we can move over to these sources entirely. And it can be said with a fair amount of certainty that a small push from a rise in oil prices and a decrease in supply will lead to a rapid shift.
Tidal and wave power might be another good alternative that becomes economically viable in the near future. Turbines that run continually as the tide comes in, and then again as the tide runs out - an endless source of energy. Wave power is similarly promising, in that turbines with a vertical construction move with each wave both 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. The problem with both of these technologies is that they take up valuable space and make it difficult or impossible for shipping or fishing to use those areas in a practical manner.
Here's something interesting, the University of Oklahoma plans to be entirely powered by wind in 5 years.
Solar and Wind are both much more clean than oil-based fuel, and they are available in huge quantities at no cost. Of course, people who don't live on hills or live in areas where the sun and wind are thwarted by large buildings or other obstacles will have to pay more for fuel of this nature since methods to capture the sun and wind power will need to be implemented. Anything is better than owing our souls to the Middle East.
Here in Nashville, a radio talk show host has converted his car to run on biodiesel fuel. He has the equipment at his home to make his own fuel out of used cooking oil. So far, he has had success. He told of making a three-hour trip (I can't remember the mileage) on a tank of gas that cost him only $6. Sounds promising to me! I don't know much about natural gas, but from what I've read and heard in news reports, it sounds like a viable alternative as well.
There are so many new ways that this country can limit the use of oil, including, as you mentioned, solar power and wind. Another source of energy is methane gas from landfills, which some companies utilize that are located near landfills. They can use the methane gas to power their assembly lines, etc. SC Johnson is one such company that utilizes this type of energy.
Solar energy is a great way to harness power because it is always going to be available and it is readily available to us. I believe solar energy has great potential for widespread use. Wind energy is another that has good potential. To learn more about the potential of wind energy, visit www.thepickensplan.com. Another energy alternative is natural gas.
The US would benefit from the use of alternate energies because we would not have to depend on foreign oil and offshorre drilling. The US is entirely too dependent on foreign oil, in my opinion.