photo: Zulfikar Dharmawan via flickr
While the economic stimulus bill still has to be reconciled before being sent onto President Obama, Reuters is reporting on another piece of green legislation, a national renewable electricity standard. The good news is that it looks as though there is enough support for it to pass. The less good news is that this RES is set lower than it should be. This is how much of the US electrical supply will have to be generated from renewable sources: Existing Hydropower Not Included in New Increases
Currently the US generates only a bit over 8% of electricity from renewable sources, and the vast majority of that comes from large scale hydropower. Under the new standard only the following energy sources would qualify: Wind power, solar polar, ocean and wave power, geothermal, biomass, landfill gas, and incremental hydropower. The contribution of existing hydropower is not included in the following increases.
From these sources then, in 2011-2012: 4% of the electric supply would have to be generated from renewable sources. In 2013-2015, 8%; in 2016-2018, 12%; in 2019-2020, 16%; 2021-2039, 20%.
These Standards Aren’t Exactly Ambitious
Sounds great, right? And it is in a way, but really it’s not that dramatic a step forward. At current renewable energy growth rates (even taking into account the downturn at the end of 2008) the odds are that even without a national standard, 4% will be reached.
And of the President’s goal of doubling the US use of renewable energy in three years is to be reached, and a law passed to push that along, then 6% will have to come from these renewable sources by 2012.
What’s more these levels are well short of what is technically possible, and probably insufficient for speeding the transition of the US power supply towards carbon-neutral sources in order to make significant reductions in carbon emissions.
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