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Forecast: U.S. Renewable Energy to Hit 700 GW

The U.S. renewable energy industry collectively tallied its future deliverable energy capacity at 550 to 700 gigawatts (GW) in Washington, DC yesterday. At such a GW-production rate, the U.S. could produce, at a minimum, 25% of the country's electrical energy requirement with renewable energy by 2025.

According to Michael Eckhart, American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) president whose organization hosted the 5th annual national policy conference "Renewable Energy in America: Phase II Market Forecasts and Policy Requirements" in DC yesterday, this is the first time a panel of renewable energy experts has assembled such a combined production capacity forecast. "We have today put real numbers on America's renewable energy future that we have for years felt in our gut," said Eckhart. "This is a huge tipping point that will guide the public policy support required for renewable energy to help lower CO2 emissions and reduce our nation's dependence on foreign fossil fuels." "There is a convergence of issues and opportunities that make this a perfect time to let mainstream America and our policy leaders know we are here to help -- 'here is what renewable can provide capacity-wise and here are the policies that will lead to solutions,'" he said. "The industry panel identified 550GW - 700GW of renewable energy potential that can be built within the next 10-20 years -- even at a 50% discount -- this makes the "25X25" proposal feasible, reasonable, and doable," added Eckhart. The 25X25 is a popularly touted policy goal of 25% renewable production by 2025, yet the estimate coming from the conference could potentially double that production. Eckhart noted these new estimates would help to galvanize the renewable energy community in proposing its policy recommendations to Congressional leaders, many newly elected by mandate to change, among other things, the way energy is produced in America for both the near and long term future. Phase II, the fifth policy conference sponsored by ACORE and held annually in Washington, attracted 450 renewable energy policy, financial and technology leaders. In a full day of presentations by industry leaders from many disciplines, the capacity estimate made by the panel comprised of renewable energy industry organizational leaders, was but one of the conference highlights. Following a moving keynote address, Thomas Freidman, a New York Times columnist and author of "The World is Flat", left the podium to a rousing standing ovation for delivering a poignant message for a new energy future and energy's role in the Iraq war. Equally eloquent as his best-selling writing, Freidman peppered his talk with such positive language as "Green is the new red, white and blue" and "Energy independence is the moonshot of our generation". But Freidman wasted no time on Capitol Hill being critical of the Bush administration's role in the war and its connection to a lack of a comprehensive energy policy. "It makes no sense," said Freidman. "We are financing both sides of the war," referring to the purchase of oil by the U.S. as a funding mechanism for our enemies and also paying for our own military operations. Jim Callihan is the president of RenewableEnergyAccess.com

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