Like any Problem, Climate Change has Solutions.
It’s no coincidence that renewable energy has been the biggest source of new power added to the US grid in the past two years.[i] Solar and wind costs have dropped an astounding 80 and 60% respectively since 2009, making them cost-competitive in many places with fossil fuels.[ii] And prices are still dropping. The International Renewable Energy Agency projects that the cost of solar electricity will drop another 59% over the next 10 years.[iii]
We shouldn’t be surprised. Remember how much cell phones and DVD players cost when first introduced? As more of these electronics were manufactured, the cheaper they became. Similarly, each time demand for solar electric panels rises, costs go down.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has found that with technology available today, renewable energy could supply 50 to 80% of total US electricity generation by 2050.[iv]
Companies like Microsoft, Pearson and SAP are already running on 100% clean power, with Google and Facebook expected to join them shortly.[v] The RE100 is a group of 65 companies, including Goldman Sachs, Bloomberg, BMW, Coca Cola and Johnson & Johnson, all committed to going 100% renewable.[vi]
In fact, renewables will be so cheap by 2025 that Pacific Gas and Electric just announced it will close its Diablo Canyon nuclear plant by then and replace 100% of its power with renewables, energy efficiency and storage.[vii] Warren Buffet’s utility plans to take its Iowa customers to 80% wind power in the next few years.[viii]
Renewable energy is one big part of the solution to climate change. But it can’t reach its potential fast enough to rescue our climate without a price on carbon, which would make solar and wind even more competitive with fossil fuels. A carbon price would also make us the leader in selling clean technology to a huge world market, boosting our economy. Stay tuned to this series.
[i] Joe Ryan, “A Renewables Revolution is Toppling the Dominance of Fossil Fuels in US Power,” Bloomberg. February 4, 2016.
[ii] Lazard, “Lazard levelized cost of energy analysis 9.0, Key findings,” November 17, 2015.
[iii]International Renewable Energy Agency, “Average costs for solar and wind electricity could fall 59% by 2025,” June 15, 2016.
[iv] National Renewable Energy Laboratory, “Renewable Electricity Futures Study,” 2012.
[v] Cassie Werber, “These companies now run on 100% renewable power,” Quartz. May 12, 2016.
[vi] The RE100
[vii]Pacific Gas and Electric, “In step with California’s evolving energy policy, PG&E, labor and environmental groups announce proposal to increase energy efficiency, renewables and storage while phasing out nuclear power over the next decade,” June 21, 206.
[viii] Cassandra Sweet, “MidAmerican Energy Makes Big Bet on Iowa Wind,” Wall Street Journal. April 14, 2016.