The U.S. can generate up to 80% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2050. That’s according to a new report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
In the report, dubbed Renewable Electricity Futures Study, the Department of Energy factored in available technologies including solar photovoltaics, wind turbines, bio-power, concentrating solar power, hydropower and geothermal. Variable resources such as solar and the wind can furnish the country with 50% of its energy needs, with the remaining 30% coming from other renewable sources.
Significant benefits of renewable energy
There are substantial benefits to using clean energy. It improves our environment, contributes to better health for all of us, and also gives our economy a push in the right direction. Investing in green energy means reduced carbon emissions, more jobs, improved public health, and many other economic benefits. Renewable energy sources do not need to be water-cooled, which leaves the water for use elsewhere.
In such a future when the country would be using 80% renewable energy, global warming emissions would be cut down by 80%. Water use for energy-generation purposes could also be reduced by 50%.
Policies needed to make this happen
It’s obvious that the right policies will need to be formulated for an 80% renewable energy future to be accomplished. However, according to the NREL, we already have the resources to start boosting our renewable energy capacity.
There’s also a need to integrate more of the produced renewable energy into the existing transmission infrastructure. Stakeholders have to come up with better grid planning so that better reliability can be achieved.
The country needs a comprehensive long-term green energy policy to encourage production and support integration into the grid. Federal and local authorities could also increase funding for research and development, as well as charge penalties for carbon emissions.
About the study
NREL’s Renewable Electricity Futures Study might be the most detailed green energy analysis thus far. The report was studied by up to 140 peer reviewers and employed the latest modeling techniques. It entailed an analysis of challenges, costs, as well as opportunities for each green energy technology.
It thus passes the bar as a report that realistically portrays what can be accomplished in the future.