We’ve made great progress with renewable energy — but from an almost zero base we still have a long way to go. Fortunately, the path is clear. California is already over 12 percent with a combination of hydroelectric, wind and solar (unfortunately not much hydro this year). Getting to 50 percent only requires the deployment of existing technology. But can we get to 100 percent?
It depends on whom you ask. Our society has made these transitions before, with new energy technologies disrupting the incumbents. 200 years ago 95 percent of our energy came from wood; by 1900 it was 50 percent coal; and by 2000 it was a mix of coal, nuclear, oil and gas. The Union of Concerned Scientists have published a plan for renewable energy to provide 80 percent of our electricity by 2050. Why stop there? Solar enthusiasts like me want to go for 100 percent.
This goal is possible: there is a recent Stanford paper entitled “100 percent Wind, Water, Sunlight (WWS) All Sector Energy Plan for the 50 U.S. States.” This plan is surprisingly realistic when one considers the rapid rate of solar deployment coupled with storage and new energy control technologies such as demand response and dynamic energy pricing. Costs are not the problem because these these technologies are being deployed now. The real issue is political will — and incumbent energy supplier resistance.
Listen up to this weeks Energy Show on Renewable Energy World as we talk about the practical steps we need to take to get to a society powered 100 percent by renewable energy.
About The Energy Show
As energy costs consume more and more of our hard-earned dollars, we as consumers really start to pay attention. But we don’t have to resign ourselves to $5/gallon gas prices, $200/month electric bills and $500 heating bills. There are literally hundreds of products, tricks and techniques that we can use to dramatically reduce these costs — very affordably.
The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World is a weekly 20-minute podcast that provides tips and advice to reduce your home and business energy consumption. Every week we’ll cover topics that will help cut your energy bill, explain new products and technologies in plain English, and cut through the hype so that you can make smart and cost-effective energy choices.
About Your Host
Barry Cinnamon is a long-time advocate of renewable energy and is a widely recognized solar power expert. In 2001 he founded Akeena Solar — which grew to become the largest national residential solar installer by the middle of the last decade with over 10,000 rooftop customers coast to coast. He partnered with Westinghouse to create Westinghouse Solar in 2010, and sold the company in 2012.
His pioneering work on reducing costs of rooftop solar power systems include Andalay, the first solar panel with integrated racking, grounding and wiring; the first UL listed AC solar panel; and the first fully “plug and play” AC solar panel. His current efforts are focused on reducing the soft costs for solar power systems, which cause system prices in the U.S. to be double those of Germany.
Although Barry may be known for his outspoken work in the solar industry, he has hands-on experience with a wide range of energy saving technologies. He’s been doing residential energy audits since the punch card days, developed one of the first ground-source heat pumps in the early ‘80s, and always abides by the Laws of Thermodynamics.
Lead image: Green microphone via Shutterstock