The Department of Energy (DOE) has conducted the largest ever examination of the America’s potential renewable energy capacity. The outcome – the DOE found that currently existing renewable energy technology would be able to supply up to 80% of America’s daily electricity use by the year 2050.
This massive finding was done by the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The DOE concedes that achieving the 80% rate is going to be an uphill battle, but it is possible. For starters, massive changes will have to be made to America’s infrastructure in order to get the full benefit from renewable energy power sources. The technology might be good enough but the national grid is not. Another challenge foreseen by the DOE is increasing the transmission capabilities for wind energy. Wind energy must expand beyond 439 gigawatts if the 80% figures are to be fulfilled. Current wind energy capacity in America is anticipated to hit 50 gigawatts by the year 2016.
Progress is being made. President Obama’s administration has invested more money into renewable energy research and grid capacity growth than any other administration. Globally renewable technology supplied about 20% of the world’s energy in 2011; an increase of around 8% from 2010. In the America, renewable energy generated close to 13% of all electricity used in the nation during 2011. Additionally, from 2009 the price of solar cells dropped by almost 50% and wind turbine prices fell by around 10%.
Despite the DOE predictions fossil fuels will not be going away; but their roll could be greatly diminished. Currently nuclear, coal, and fossil fuels supply more than 60% of America’s energy needs. Interestingly, coal accounts for more than 40% of U.S. electricity generation today. I think it is time to step away from a Dickens’s England and into the 21st century.
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison