The national flow of electricity is changing, and new studies show that the United States will be able to generate 80% of its power from renewable sources by 2050, Climate Central reported Nov. 25.
“There’s no technological or economic barrier preventing the U.S. from almost completely eliminating fossil fuels and basically kicking its carbon habit by mid-century,” Bobby Magill wrote for the environmental news site.
A new United Nations report released Nov. 20 articulated concrete steps on how the U.S. might do just that.
The challenge is largely a political and social one.
Three major changes, the report authors say, would allow the U.S. to lower its CO2 emissions to nearly zero: a rapid increase in energy efficiency, better methods of electricity production, and a complete halt of oil and natural gas use.
This would mean building new infrastructure for green energy generation, as well as making lifestyle changes such as trading gas ranges for electric cooktops and SUVs for electric cars.
But as Magill noted, even if Americans are unable or unwilling to make such dramatic adjustments in the next 35 years, the energy marketplace is already changing.
“Even if the nation doesn’t adapt to that degree, it is clear that the way Americans get their electricity and how it’s generated will be vastly different than today, toppling the current model of power flowing in one direction, from major power plants into American homes,” he wrote.
The simple model of electricity distribution in which a plant feeds a utility company that then distributes power to customers has been widened by energy deregulation in a number of states (allowing consumers to choose their electricity supplier from a number of companies and still have power delivered by the local utility company).
Doug Arent, executive director of the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis, says that the establishment of small renewable energy generators powering only one building or a cluster of buildings will even further challenge the dominance of major electric suppliers.
As home and business owners set up solar panels or mini turbines, “many people will feed power back into the grid, a two-way system that changes the energy landscape dramatically,” Magill explained.
“Everybody in the energy community should continue to try to provide service options to consumers while keeping the health of the planet as a priority in this rapidly changing energy market,” says Duane Gereski, Director of Marketing at Starion Energy.