We CAN make the switch to clean energy.
'It can be done.' That's the take away from a new report that says our world can make the switch to 100% renewable energy by 2050.
That new analysis, called “World Energy Revolution: A Sustainable World Energy Outlook 2015”, was produced by Greenpeace, in collaboration with researchers from the German Aerospace Center.
The report states, “100% renewable energy for all is achievable by 2050, and [it] is the only way to ensure the world does not descend into catastrophic climate change.”
While the authors of that study admit that the initial costs of making the switch would be “huge”, they explain that “the savings will be even bigger.”
The fact is, it's already costing us way more to extract dirty energy like oil, gas, and coal, and the prices don't even reflect the clean up costs and environmental destruction that the fossil fuel industry dumps into the laps of taxpayers.
Meanwhile, the cost of clean energy like solar and wind is dropping, and oil and gas subsidies are the only reason that renewable energy sources aren't more affordable already. The report explains, “Dynamic change is taking place in the energy sector. Renewable energies have become mainstream in most countries, and prices have fallen dramatically.”
If we consider the real costs of fossil fuels, making the switch isn't only feasible, it's the only affordable option for the future.
The Executive Director of Greenpeace, Kumi Naidoo, said, “I urge all those who say 'it can't be done' to read this report and recognize that it can be done and must be done for the benefit of people around the world.”
Well said, Kumi. Now it's up to the rest of us get to work making it happen.
Yeah, that impresses the hell out of me. Massive subsidies, state imposed edicts, and they hope, really hope they might achieve 33% of electricity generation by 2020 - that's not % of consumption which will be much lower due to needing to import 33% of their electricity. That's pathetic for the largest state economy in the US.
And Biomass is not "clean energy" as the super-rich cretins at the UCS claim. In fact it is every bit as dirty as Coal energy. Biomass combustion kills over 3 million people every year according to the WHO.
So California hoping for 33% renewables after 40 yrs of all-out effort, including imports (why can't they generate that themselves - I thought they were big on distributed energy?) By 2014 California has only achieved 3.5% with its own Solar & 4.4% Wind, of its electricity consumption. The only renewables that are actually growing.
Compare California's miserable achievement & renewable dreasms with France which went form 0-70% cleaner & greener nuclear in 20 yrs with a mundane effort. Now at 78% Nuclear and 90% Clean Nuclear + Hydro electricity. And that is not imported - generated right in France.
Similarily little old Ontario achieved 62% nuclear in 2014 with It's own indigenous CANDU PHWR natural uranium, nuclear. With clean hydro that's 84% clean energy in 30 yrs of effort, could throw in an extra 3% for not-so-clean wind for 87% total. You don't hear anything on the corrupt MSM about Ontario or France. Endless hype about California & Germany however. With Germany's 76% of its electricity coming from non-Renewable sources in 2013, really 79.5% since they don't like to call conventional hydro "renewable". And a whopping 6.1% solar in 2014. Which ain't gonna increase much anymore with the rapid drop in installations. Pathetic.
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When reading statistics about renewables, you have to notice whether they say energy or electricity. Energy includes transport, which is a great user of fossil fuels, and has different characteristics to other fuel uses, so will be solved in different ways on different timescales.
Solar energy actually began in the 1860s. But development was halted in the 1890s because of competition from cheap coal. http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/environment/augustin-mouchot-the...
Solar power resumed in the 1910s with Frank Schuman building a solar farm in Egypt. Then, development was halted by World War 1 and the advent of cheap oil. http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/technology/the-promise-of-solar-...
Since then we have learned that fossil fuels are not so cheap after all - they come at the cost of ill health and death for many, war, degradation of land, greenhouse gases threatening the existence of the planet as we know it. The industry has received massive subsidies from us - from the normal tax subsidies that any business can claim to the cost of the military to safeguard supplies and supply lines and for wars involving energy (would we give a toss about the Middle East if they did not have oil?), and not having been forced to pay in full for the medical costs they have caused us or for cleaning up after disasters or normal business. And the enormous wealth that fossil fuel barons have amassed allows them to have a major impact on our democracy.
There is no way that fossil fuels are going to last forever, and they will get more and more expensive to extract (we do not 'produce' them) over time, particularly since with increasing population and development of countries, demand will increase unless we make a major effort to reduce energy use.
So, it make an enormous amount of sense to invest in renewable energy, and we should not balk at the cost of R&D or if it takes a temporary subsidy to consumers to raise demand to the point where it is worth building large factories to bring economies of scale.
Once we put our mind to it, we developed the technology to put a man on the moon, and have made enormous strides in the development of computer chips and computers. So do not judge solar energy by what we can do now, we could do so much more with a little effort. It is time to give solar its day in the sun.
At first glance, Thorium does look promising:
- there is 3 times as much of it available as uranium
- it would produce around a tenth of the waste of uranium
- a nuclear bomb cannot be made out of its byproducts
On the other hand:
- it is still in the early stages of R&D and it would take too long to complete research and build enough powewr plants to make a difference
- it would still be highly centralised and therefore at risk from terrorism, war and natural disasters
- "Thorium has been proposed as an alternative to uranium because of its abundance in nature and the hope that it might pose fewer waste and safety risks. In principle, thorium could be used in a variety of reactors, including conventional light-water reactors used in the United States, but it cannot sustain a nuclear chain reaction by itself. It must be combined with a fissile material such as enriched uranium, uranium-233 (an isotope created from thorium), or plutonium. However, the Department of Energy has found that reactors fueled with thorium and uranium do not provide any clear advantages over uranium-only reactors in terms of waste management, proliferation risk, safety, economics, or sustainability.
Liquid fluoride thorium reactors (LFTRs), which use a fuel made of molten salt, have been proposed as significantly safer than current-generation reactors, but serious safety issues associated with the retention of fission products in the fuel may not be resolved. LFTRs also present proliferation and terrorism risks because they involve the continuous “reprocessing” of the spent fuel to separate out uranium-233, which could be used in a nuclear weapon. Moreover, disposal of the used fuel could pose a major challenge; an experimental LFTR that operated at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1960s still has highly radioactive spent fuel on site that is proving very costly and difficult to clean up." http://www.ucsusa.org/publications/earthwise/dialogue-earthwise-summer-2...
The point I've made is that it simply makes no sense to develop nuclear power when advances in solar, wind, etc., show the way toward an energy future that is fully sustainable, clean, and safe. The use of solar energy for heating, cooling, and electrical power is growing exponentially. The problem of storage is being solved. The costs across the board are coming down rapidly. Why mine thorium and uranium and build expensive reactors that generate radioactive waste when all the energy we need for electricity shines down on us from a natural thermonuclear reactor every day? It defies common sense.
California's Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) Program
Union of Concerned Scientists FACT SHEET
California Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS)
Established in 2002 under Senate Bill 1078, accelerated in 2006 under Senate Bill 107 and expanded in 2011 under Senate Bill 2, California's Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) is one of the most ambitious renewable energy standards in the country. The RPS program requires investor-owned utilities (IOUs), electric service providers, and community choice aggregators to increase procurement from eligible renewable energy resources to 33% of total procurement by 2020. See the Program Overview page for more information.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) implements and administers RPS compliance rules for California’s retail sellers of electricity, which include investor-owned utilities (IOU), electric service providers (ESP) and community choice aggregators (CCA). The California Energy Commission (CEC) is responsible for the certification of electrical generation facilities as eligible renewable energy resources, and adopting regulations for the enforcement of RPS procurement requirements of Publicly Owned Utilities (POUs). Additional information pertaining to the CEC’s roles in California RPS program can be found here.