New Report by CleanEdge Calls for “All-of-the-Above Clean-Energy Approach” to Reaching 100% Renewables
A new report by CleanEdge, entitled “Getting to 100: A Status Report on Rising Commitments Among Corporations and Governments to Reach 100% Renewables,” illustrates how a goal that “would have seemed preposterous not long ago” — “powering one’s company, utility, city, state, or nation with 50%, 75%, or even 100% renewable electricity” — is now well within the realm of reality. In fact, as the report explains, although “reaching 100% renewables may seem like an audacious goal, it’s already starting to happen,” whether at the corporate, local, state or national levels. Why is this happening now and what’s the best way to accelerate even faster going forward? According to the report:
- The most important factor driving clean energy growth has been its rapidly declining cost. Between 2007 and 2014, “the global average cost of a solar PV system” fell from $7.20 per watt to just $2.47 per watt, “a decline of more than 65 percent in just seven years.” As for wind, power CleanEdge notes that “power purchase agreements (PPAs) for power produced in the wind-swept middle sections of the country had fallen to as low as 2.24 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), down from 7 cents/kWh in 2009.”
- Competitive energy storage systems are becoming widely available. This addresses “the intermittency issue for renewables and is poised to dramatically shift the energy equation.”
- Companies and governments are increasingly seeking 100% clean power. That 100% goal (or in some cases 50%, 75%, 80%) includes major corporations like Facebook, Goldman Sachs, Google, IKEA, Intel, Kohl’s, Mars, Walmart, and others. It also includes states like California, Vermont and Hawaii; and nations like Costa Rica, Denmark, Germany and Scotland. The number of companies and countries looking to substantially boost their clean energy generation is likely to continue increasing for years to come.
- The need to head of dangerous climate change is also driving the transition from dirty to clean energy. “Working hand-in-hand with aggressive renewable energy increases, are CO2 emissions reduction mandates.” That includes the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) cap-and-trade system in the northeastern U.S.; a carbon emissions trading system in China; and a November 2014 agreement between the U.S. and China to reduce greenhouse gases.
- CleanEdge recommens a “whole systems approach” that encompasses the energy demand and supply sides, as well as “a range of decision points and actions.” These include building retrofits, demand response/smart appliances, net zero buildings, distributed and utility-scale solar, third-party clean energy offerings (PPAs), distributed and large-scale storage. The bottom line is that the transition to 100% clean energy will be “varied and multi-dimensional,” with no “one-size-fits-all approach.”
To reiterate, the bottom line is that the clean energy transition is well underway for a variety of strong reasons, and is likely to continue accelerating in years to come. Of course, government policy decisions and private-sector actions can help make this transition happen even more rapidly, and that should be strongly encouraged. Fortunately, we’re already seeing some of that take place; now it’s time for everyone to join in.