Tuesday Energy Blogging: Renewable energy’s time has come for Arizona

01 Jun 2010 10:12 pm
Posted by: Donna

Critics of Arizona’s Renewable Energy Standard bemoan the expense of technologies like solar and wind. What they don’t tell you is that the costs of every traditional fuel source – coal, gas, nuclear – are rising to unsustainable levels that will send utility bills to the stratosphere in the near future. Coal is getting scarce and natural gas is hella volatile. Nuclear won’t be as cheap going into the future as people think. OTOH, the costs of solar, wind, and other renewables are going down.

This 2009 article – Study: Renewable energies’ potential untapped explains how a lack of political and financial impetus, and not a lack of technological prowess, is behind the sluggish growth of renewable energy in the US.

If you think the lack of technology is the reason we don’t have more wind and solar power, think again.

The National Research Council on Monday published a report that finds that renewable energy sources–wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, and biomass–could supply 10 percent of U.S. electricity supply in 2020 with existing technology. Today, renewable energies excluding hydro power are about 2.5 percent of the U.S. electricity mix.

Getting to 20 percent of U.S. electricity by 2035 is possible with sustained policies and investment, it said. To achieve more than 50 percent of electricity generation from renewable sources, excluding hydro power, beyond 2035 would require new scientific advances and dramatic changes in the power-generating industry, the report concludes.

The primary barriers to deeper penetration in the near and medium term are cost, policy, and insufficient transmission lines, the report finds.

Cost is pretty much a given, as energy costs are going to soar no matter what’s in the energy mix. But policy and infrastructure development offer promising opportunities to expand renewable energy and bring some measure of stability to energy costs. And lower carbon emissions. Tell me again, why are there people opposed to this?


  1. Comment by Timmys Cat on June 2, 2010 1:50 pm

    and dramatic changes in the power-generating industry.

    Hee-hee! ! thought I could snark!

    Wut? They’re serious?

    I’ve had on and off contact with that industry for a bit. While they’ve got the fossil part down pat, it’s the fueled part that they have trouble with. Another water fowl industry.

    I notice you libural didn’t bring up all the new jobs BP has created along the Gulf Coast.
    (ha! i wonder if they shouldn’t be called Butt Pucker after Holder called for criminal investigations.)

  2. Comment by bafserver on June 3, 2010 2:17 am

    Hi there Diva,

    The link to the 2009 article on renewable energies didn’t work.

    Thanks for your work! Bye…

  3. Comment by Donna on June 3, 2010 9:12 am

    Sorry! Fixed the link.

  4. Comment by Chris's Dog on June 3, 2010 11:02 am

    My son is in the materials engineering field and is in the middle of a research center.

    They are REAL happy that some of the latest developments have the cost of solar energy production down to approximately 6 to 1 ratio with traditional electrical production. That’s right solar equipment with the latest less expensive technology is only 6 times more expensive to produce electricity than what is on the grid now.


  5. Comment by Donna on June 3, 2010 8:29 pm

    6 to 1, really, Chris’s Dog? Are you taking into account the TOTAL cost of production, including all those pesky externals like those associated with pollution, damage to the environment, water use, etc.?

  6. Comment by Joy on June 8, 2010 2:30 pm

    6 to 1 – Chris’s Dog.

    I have to add to this conversation – $1 billion dollars and untold costs and environmental impacts in the Gulf – that is the current BP number. If a truck of solar panels crashed on the I-10, I am sure it would not be a hazardous clean-up and the crew would not have to wear white suits and a facemask! If statements like yours stopped and people started working towards clean energy options, costs will decrease and subsidies will not be needed! We will NEVER see that with fossil fuel!

  7. Comment by Aaron Stewart on June 20, 2010 1:26 am

    Renewable energy is the future, why depend on fossil fuels when we can go renewable..’,

  8. Comment by Hailey Hall on July 28, 2010 1:25 am

    Renewable Energy got into more focuse in this decade because everyone does not want to depend on Oil..`:

  9. Comment by Clare on September 19, 2011 2:41 am

    Incredibly well presented information in this report

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