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Gore: 100% Renewable Energy in 10 Years

Al Gore this week has set an aggressive goal to get the US to produce 100% of its energy from renewable energy within 10 years. In an interview with Tom Brokaw, Gore compared the aggressive renewable energy goal similar to JFK’s race to the moon goal, which people back then did not think was possible.

Many renewable energy professionals think the goal is too aggressive because of the political support for renewable energy and the time frame of 10 years which could be impossible to covert a whole nation’s view of energy into a green one. Gore highlights solar energy as one of the sources that can help Americans reach the goal of renewable energy. What do you think? Can we pull it off within 10 years?

Author: Deep Patel

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  1. I don’t think it is possible with the economy and technology as it currently is. Solar is prohibitively expensive for the vast majority of people to even consider affording in a time of economic down turn and high inflation.

    If there is some sort of serious technological breakthrough in the next year, that makes solar cost a something like a tenth of what it currently does, then yes the goal may be achievable.

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  2. mattress,

    Germany has well advanced with renewable energy, because of their feed-in tariff. The technology has been becoming more efficient and affordable each year. Although federal government support, incentives and financing has not improved much. In fact the federal tax credit is expiring the end of this year.

    I don’t feel the breakthrough is going to be technological but actual support from the federal government to step up and provide the subsidies going to fossil fuels to the renewable energy industry on an even playing field such as a feed-in tariff which utility companies are forced to buy electricity from anyone who puts up solar panels or wind turbines at a premium per kWh.

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  3. I think the only way we’ll be 100% renewable in 10 years is through technological breakthrough, but not necessarily in solar. If the Blacklight power system actually works, that’d do it. I’ve also been hearing about advances on the cold fusion front.

    We have a feed-in tariff or something similar here in WI and it’s still not good enough for the economics to justify the upfront cost, even with federal subsidization.

    I also read an article that said if the federal government took the subsidy money it spent to pay for one home’s solar installation and instead bought tankless water heaters, it could outright buy heaters for 5-6 homes and save much more energy (and CO2) than the one solar installation would. Just some food for thought, solar is sexy but it’s not the best way to save energy for the money.

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  4. mattress,

    well solar energy, in terms of technology is much further along in the market than blacklight power and much further along than fusion.

    The feed-in tariff here in the USA are not very well deployed. Germany has a great feed-in tariff system, many people invest in solar out there because the financial payback makes sense. In fact Germany only has a 2.5 avg sun hours per day while the USA has an avg of 5 sun hours per day. If we could just make the utilities across america pay you a premium for the energy you produce, well we would surpass Germany in solar because we have much more sun out here.

    Be careful which articles you read out there…many journalists just don’t understand solar and are not credible sources. I have seen many solar water heating and solar power systems make great financial sense, but it really depends from person to person. Yes you are right, solar is not the best way to save money on energy, the best way to save money on energy is stop being an energy hog, many people call me with very high electric bills and when you start digging into their usage, we waste a lot of electricity here in America. the most cost effective way to save on energy expenses is “reduce then produce”.

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  5. Just hypothetical, what happens when a power company is paying out more money due to a feed-in tarrif than they are bringing in by selling electricity?

    Well that wouldn’t necessarily happen because they would be forced to raise their rates. What sort of effect would that have on poor people? Someone will pay for the feed-in tariff down the line and I bet it won’t be the power company taking the hit.

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  6. Electric rate inflation has been growing at 6% a year, so the utilities have been raising their rates every year reguardless. Utility companies are responsible for the generation and distribution of electricity. With a feed in tariff the utilities are forced to buy electricity from people contributing to the grid for a premium.

    Currently utility companies build their own plants and that money they are spending on new plants would just be reallocated to paying customers to produce their electricity that is contributed to the grid. So the bottom line is that feed-in tariffs lower the cost of doing business for utilities because they are less involved in the generation aspect of the business.

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