In Del Norte, Colo., Public Works Supervisor Kevin Larimore shows off solar panels that provide electricity for the town's water supply. Despite generating its own solar energy, the town is still at risk of a blackout if its main power line goes down. Dan Boyce/Inside Energy hide caption

itoggle caption Dan Boyce/Inside Energy

The National Ignition Facility's 192 laser beams focus onto a tiny target. LLNL hide caption

itoggle caption LLNL

An air-monitoring station near the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant in Kingston, Tenn. Stations such as this one are used to monitor clean-air compliance of TVA coal-fired plants. Wade Payne/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Wade Payne/AP

We face real-world decisions now about everything from sea level rise, to energy infrastructure to what food is best for you. Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

Wind generators at Pacific Hydro's Cape Bridgewater wind farm in Warrnambool, Australia, in May 2012. Each generator produces roughly enough energy to meet the annual needs of 12,000 households. Mark Dadswell/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Mark Dadswell/Getty Images

Residents of Mutriku, a fishing village on Spain's northern coast, lounge at their local beach, protected from fierce Atlantic waves by a cement breakwater that also houses Europe's first wave energy plant. Lauren Frayer for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lauren Frayer for NPR

Austin Mitchell walks away from an oil derrick outside Williston, N.D., in July 2011. North Dakota is now the No. 2 producer of oil in the U.S. behind Texas. Gregory Bull/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Gregory Bull/AP