With Scotland targeting 100% renewable energy by 2020, and some folks even saying that 100% green energy is possible for the world, the prospect of massively ramped-up clean energy generation is becoming increasingly realistic.
While naysayers continue to point to the intermittent supply of solar and wind, large-scale energy storage; the massively underestimated potential of energy efficiency; and the rapid advance of smart grid technology and truly low energy building infrastructure all point to an energy future that will look nothing like our past.
So it's in this context that a new report from the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) should be evaluated, claiming that Minnesota could meet 100% of its energy needs with solar, wind and energy efficiency:
Minnesota's electricity sector currently accounts for over one third of the state's greenhouse gas emissions. State policy is to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050. "A significant change in electricity generation sources is clearly needed to achieve that goal," Dr. Makhijani explained. "Fortunately, wind and solar can provide 100% of Minnesota's electricity. These currently available technologies also offer significant job creation and economic development opportunities."
"Renewable Minnesota" demonstrates that:
- Minnesota has more than enough wind and solar resources to meet the state's demand for electricity generation.
- A renewable energy-based electricity sector is technically feasible using proven technologies.
- A renewable energy-based electricity system costs about the same overall as at present if efficiency improvements are made along with the transition to renewable electricity generation.
Given that IEER is actively involved in advocating for a carbon-free and nuclear-free energy future, they are hardly an unbiased source. But then I am increasingly convinved that nobody is an unbiased source. And if the choice is between those who set ambitious goals for an innovative 100% clean energy future, and those who say that the present paradigm is the best we can do, I know where I'm going to align myself.