Terraform Earth

10 Years Now: Repower America

Much of the commentary on Al Gore’s speech in Washington yesterday, given as part of his We Campaign and viewable on the We Campaign’s website, has focused on whether or not his vision of replacing all carbon sources of energy in the U.S. with renewable sources is feasible. Advocates of alternative energy applaud him and point out the progress that has been, and is being made, in alternative energy. They reiterate, as Gore did, the quantities of energy currently untouched. That 40 minutes worth of sunshine could power the globe. That wind farms in the midwest could power the country.  Skeptics say it isn’t doable. Alternative energy they say is currently a very small portion of the energy produced in the U.S.: only about 2.5%. And they label Gore an alarmist that can be ignored. But does it matter if we succeed or not, given we make an earnest effort to replace as much of our carbon polluting sources as we can as quickly as we can? There would be no consequences other than perhaps lower energy cost, reduced dependence on foreign sources of energy, a reinvigorated economy focused on high demand emerging technologies, healthier living, and a less polluted environment. We must try. Al Gore’s vision is bold and seemingly unreachable, but his concerns are in proportion to the difficulties we face as a country and world, now and in the future.


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  1. * Seth Masia says:

    Reading the blogs overnight, and listening to radio talk, it’s marvelous to see the advocates and deniers lining up on either side of Al Gore’s call to action. Folks with direct experience in renewable energy development tend to say “Right on, let’s get at it.” Conservatives tend to say “He’s a gasbag; it can’t possibly work.”

    Well, do the math. The US currently gets 20% of its electricity from nuclear plants and about 7% from hydro sources (granted, we buy some of that from Canada). In 2007 about 2.5% of our power came from “other” renewables — wind, solar, geothermal and biomass. To get to that level, wind and solar have been growing at about 40% annually for the past five years, so that they’ve become the new magnet for progressive investors, from the Kleiner Perkins group to T. Boone Pickens. Pickens wants to replace ALL oil imports, soon, and is putting up $100 billion for the purpose. The Google guys — we all know how naive they are — say they can make renewables cheaper than coal.

    Assume for a moment that Mr. Pickens and his peers can keep renewable energy growing at 40% annually for the next decade. Why shouldn’t they? At that rate, it doubles every two years. In 2010, renewables make up 5% of our electricity mix; in 2012, 10%; in 2014, 20%; in 2016, 40%; and in 2018, ten years from now, 80%. Assume we still have nukes and dams, and we’re over the top.

    Just stay the course, and we can shut all the coal plants down, and all the natural gas powerplants, too.

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 8 months ago
  2. * terraformearth says:

    Hey Seth,
    Thank you for the comment. I’ll be following the ASES blog closely.

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 8 months ago

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