Is 100 percent renewable energy achievable?
Is it even desirable?
Yes, but it will not happen overnight and it will differ from location to location. Just like mainline power today is a blend of many resources, some being renewable, future power will as well be a mixture. Our current power consists of coal, nuclear, natural gas, bio fuels, wind, hydro and solar.
As coal falls victim to Environmental Protection Agency standards because of health issues related to pollution and emissions from coal mining, it ultimately has to end and be replaced.
Because of water contamination during mining this will happen to natural gas as well.
Coal has been subsidized from its inception for over 100 years and nuclear is no different.
The main difference is that nuclear has a very high cost and no return on investment.
The cost to build a nuclear facility, constantly produce energy and then decommission the facility is a larger cost than most other power sources and cannot exist without extreme subsidies.
As one technology becomes obsolete to another, and advancements are made, to become completely reliant on renewables is, in fact, very likely.
This is already achievable on a small scale, and it is just a matter of time before the scale increases dramatically. That time may be 10 to 100 years from now, but be certain that it will happen.
The key that will assist this is power storage – like battery technology – that solves remote and waste issues and helps people live in what was once an unsuitable area.
Better storage technology will also improve the efficiencies of current power sources and ultimately help renewables.
Perry Bell is President and CEO of Alpharetta-based Solar Energy USA and President and CEO of Net Zero USA