According to a new study from the U.S. National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), accessing renewable energy sources with current commercially available technologies could supply as much as 80 percent of total electricity generation in 2050.
As some of the most credible experts on advanced energy, this is a huge finding from the NREL. The detailed analysis makes it clear that renewable energy is now readily accessible and can provide a large chunk of the energy needed to run a prosperous and growing economy. The only question is whether or not the United States is ready and willing to take advantage of the opportunity and start moving in this direction. Some other heavily industrialized nations, such as Germany, already are.
The crazy part of this research is that nothing is needed other than the technology we already have available, to make such a huge shift in US energy consumption. The scientific community doesn’t have to make huge breakthroughs to reach this level of renewable energy use, as everything we need already exists. Of course, there are other technologies and breakthroughs that would be nice to have to get us to 100% renewable use quickly, but the fact that we can get to 80 percent right now says a lot about what could happen in the next decades.
ThinkProgress makes a great point about how we need to acknowledge this reality, but actually implement the changes into the system. In a similar fashion to the past development of railroads, highways, rural electrification, and the Internet, if we keep the potential payoff and benefits in mind rather than the initial costs and hard work, things will move much more efficiently in the right direction. Incentives to businesses and consumers will be an important way to get everyone on board and to increase productivity.
The research found that wind and solar power are the two biggest resources that have shown steady increase and will continue to do so. Nuclear power will remain stable but probably won’t see much growth in terms of percentage used, and a reliance on fossil fuels may finally come to an end.
It all boils down to the fact that a cleaner environment may not be as technologically challenging as we often think, and it has more to do with creativity, innovation, and putting current methods and technologies to proper use. Do you think we can do it?