Do people think you're starry-eyed and gullible about a renewable energy future?
Show them NREL's new report that finds cutting climate pollution from America’s electricity system by 80% – in line with what science says we need to do to avoid climate catastrophe – is completely within our capacity.
By Rhys Roth
ever talk with someone who thinks you’re starry-eyed and gullible because you
think a renewable energy future can work? I’ve got your answer.
Three remarkable things to note about the new the Renewable Electricity Futures
Study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory:
1) Cutting climate pollution from America’s electricity system by 80% – in line with what science says we need to do to avoid climate catastrophe – is completely within our capacity. There has never been a more comprehensive study than this of the challenges and constraints involved in moving to a system powered by 80% renewable energy resources by 2050. Including only technologies already commercially available, nothing futuristic, NREL found a wide range of renewable resource mixes can get us to 80% “while balancing supply and demand at the hourly level.”
2) A renewable energy-powered future is – surprise! – our secret weapon in the coming water wars. NREL found the 80% renewables future cut water use in the power sector roughly in half. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, power plants are consuming as much of our precious – and increasingly scarce – fresh water as America’s farmers do to grow food, and four times as much as all our homes put together.
3) Building our 80% renewables future will require a much bigger renewable energy workforce. While the U.S. added 9 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity on average in 2009 and 2010, in the study’s scenarios the rate climbs to 32-46 gigawatts per year by the 2040s. But NREL found, “No insurmountable long-term constraints to renewable electricity technology manufacturing capacity, materials supply, or labor availability.”
If nothing else, sitting your skeptic friend down with this tome – Volume 1 weighs in at 280 pages and there are four volumes – will keep him or her busy for a while. Meanwhile, the rest of us need to get busy advocating, promoting, informing, and building a renewable future for our country and our kids.