Let the fossils rest in peace
“Renewables are good but they will never be able to provide 100% of the world`s energy supply.” This has been the discourse for the past years. Even a decade ago, cities, regions, and businesses aiming for 20% renewable energy were on the cutting edge. Anyone even suggesting a target of 100% renewable energy was a radical. Fast forward to today 100% renewable energy goals are becoming the new normal. And if one thinks that this transformation of the energy sector is only taking place in Europe, one will be surprised to see the developments in the US.
Here, cities like San Francisco, Lancaster, and San José have set official political goals to reach 100% renewable power within the next decade. The state of Vermont has an energy plan in place to reach 90% renewable energy in all sectors by mid century. The heartland town of Greensburg, KS has already reached a 100% renewable power goal set after being destroyed by a tornado in 2007, and aims to achieve renewable energy for all sectors.
According to the latest Energy Infrastructure Update report from the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Energy Projects, renewable energy sources accounted for 82 percent of all new domestic electrical generating capacity installed in the first three months of 2013 for a total of 1,546 MW. The balance (340 MW) came from natural gas. Coal, nuclear power, and oil have provided no new generating capacity thus far this year. For the month of March 2013 alone, 100 percent of the new electrical generation in service came from solar. The installed capacity of new solar units during the first quarter of 2013 (537 MW) is more than double that installed during the same period in 2012 (264 MW).
Underscoring the emerging evolution from vision to reality, world leaders in the 100% renewable energy movement gathered this week in San Francisco for the first international conference in North America to discuss the issues around how to make the urgently needed change. At the Pathways to 100% Renewable Energy Conference, organized by Renewables 100 Policy Institute, the World Future Council and other Partners, brought together 180 people from finance, academia, government, policy, private sector and civil society for an intensive debate about what has proved successful and how to best overcome the current challenges to achieving the 100% renewable energy targets in all sectors and regions.
One of the key outcomes was the launch of new international campaign for 100% renewable energy that seeks to build the political will among a critical mass of decision makers setting the required goal of 100% renewable energies. Among the founding partners of the new alliance are the World Future Council, Renewables 100 Policy Institute, World Wind Energy Association, Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, DeENet, Energy Democracy TV and World Bioenergy Association.
While a global shift to 100% renewable energy is often dismissed as a pipe dream, the fact is that it has never been a question of “if.” Basic logic says that non-renewable energy, by definition, is finite and will run out. The real questions are “when” and “how” to shift to 100% renewable energy.
Month after month, renewable energy sources continue to dominate the new electrical generating capacity being brought in the United States and elsewhere in the world. The path towards a zero-coal, zero-nuclear future is ready to be taken up from political decisions makers around the world. If you think 100% renewable energy will never happen, guess again. It already is. Tomorrow’s winners will likely be those figuring out how to do it today.
Wednesday, April 17th, 2013