While it’s not exactly an answer for a question I put to Al Gore in a recent post, more details have come out about how the clean energy vision Gore articulated in his Repowering America speech can be made a reality. In a series of charts on the Repower America website, two scenarios are laid out which show different energy mixes which will give the US 100% clean energy by 2020. (The two additional years added on since Gore’s speech are only for ease of comparison with DOE charts...)
So here they are, two potential energy mixes that can result of getting our collective act together and making the commitment to only use clean energy:Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Can Make Up For Not Using Fossil Fuels
In each scenario, Repower America assumes that nuclear power (we’ll leave aside whether this can truly be considered a clean source of energy...) and large scale hydro power remain at current levels (17% and 6% respectively) and that energy efficiency improvements can reduce overall energy demand by 28%.
Each assumes that in addition to these energy efficiency improvements, renewable energy continues robust expansion (solar, wind and biomass rates are consistent with existing industry growth projections), and that a national unified smart grid is built to facilitate bringing that power to the places where it’s needed most. (Note: links in this paragraph go to Repower America’s explanation on how we can do this.)
Scenario A: We've Kicked the Fossil Fuel Habit
I think the most important thing to take away from this is that the amount of solar PV, wind and biomass presented here are consistent with current industry growth rates. We’re not talking about increasing the speed at which these technologies are deployed, just consistently expanding what’s already happening.
Scenario B: Carbon Capture Used on Limited Scale for Natural Gas & Coal
While I still have my doubts about a larger scale viability of CCS technology, perhaps the 4% presented here is viable. Though it seems like it’s more of a head nod to the technology more than anything else. And why not go all the way and knock coal and natural gas out of the running, as in Scenario A?
DOE Reference Scenario: Still Emiting CO2 Like There's No Tomorrow
For more on Repower America’s scenarios, their answers to some objections to these scenarios (Won’t they take up too much land? What about material shortages?), as well as a whole slew of expert quotes on the viability of these scenarios, visit: Repower America.
all images: Repower America
Al Gore, Renewable Energy
Al Gore’s Repowering America Speech Video Clip
Al Gore: New ‘Moon Shot’ Needed to Solve Climate Crisis
Al Gore and Power Vote Team Up to Get Out the Green Vote (Video Clip)