Imagine the U.S., over the next 15 years, achieving 90% carbon-free, “clean” electricity.
No need to just imagine, better yet read about it. That’s the conclusion of a new University of California Berkeley study “2035 – The Report: Plummeting Solar, Wind, and Battery Costs Can Accelerate Our Clean Energy Future,” by the university’s Goldman School of Public Policy. The report is featured in the current installment of videographer Peter Sinclair’s “This Is Not Cool” video.
That goal – 90% carbon-free electricity by 2035 – can be achieved without increasing consumer electricity costs “at all,” says Dan Kammen, PhD, of Berkeley. Solar, wind, and storage costs have fallen so significantly, he says, that “even conservative leaders, conservative states, districts, countries can legitimately look at renewables, and actually economically need to look at renewables, as their next purchases.”
Study author Amol Phadke, PhD, says that costs “have dropped so much that renewables have become cost-effective across the country” and no longer solely in particular regions of the U.S.
U.C. Santa Cruz’s Leah Stokes, PhD, says policies are needed to support efforts involving, for instance, energy conservation and commercial building efficiency and residential retrofits
Kammen, Phadke, and Stokes join with consulting firm Energy Innovations Vice President Sonia Aggerwal in arguing that renewables create three times more jobs per investment dollar than fossil fuels.
Expert’s advice: avoid ‘demonizing’ fossil fuel interests
MacArthur “genius” fellow Saul Griffith, in a clip included in the video, cautions advocates of renewable energy against “demonizing” the fossil fuel industry: “We are getting the fossil fuel industry sort of backed into a corner,” Griffith says in that video. “And honestly, the most people in this country who know how to build infrastructure at scale are in the fossil fuel industry.”
Asked if the U.S. can afford to move to renewables, Nobel Prize economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, PhD, says he is not worried: “Should it be a problem for us to borrow now and service that debt afterwards?” He answers his own question: “The arithmetic says it’s no problem.
“The debt implications – if it’s my top 10 things to worry about – it’s not in that top 10 list.”