80% Renewable Energy by 2050 is Possible, Just Using Today's Commercially-Available Technology

contri/CC BY-SA 2.0

While more research into improving renewable energy technology is certainly a good thing, a new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows that even if we just had today's cleantech for the next 40 years, we'd still be able to supply 80% of our electricity from low-carbon sources.

Climate Progress does a good job breaking down the report, outlining the different scenarios presented by NREL, so I'll refer you there for the majority of the details.

Under the 80% scenario, wind power is the single-largest energy source, roughly 35% of electricity, biomass is roughly 20%, solar power (PV and concentrating) is a bit over 10%, as is hydropower, nuclear power and coal hanging in there at just under 10%, with geothermal and natural gas in the low single digits.

The key take-away for me is the same point CP is highlighting:

We don't need some crazy cool new technology or some groundbreaking invention. We aren't waiting on the scientific community to make some breakthrough.

There's obviously a hefty transition to go through to replace our existing, polluting energy system into a clean one—we shouldn't underestimate that—but if there's one barrier that simply doesn't exist it's the technology to produce energy from renewable sources itself.

To poke at a turn of phrase that particular irks me: There's no game that needs to be changed—other than perhaps the political one that keeps us stuck in the same polluting rut that's killing us and the planet increasingly quickly.

Tags: Renewable Energy

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