BOSTON -- America has the capacity to build an energy system around clean, renewable resources, according to a new report released Thursday by Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group. The study, We Have the Power: Reaching America's potential for clean, renewable energy, finds that America has abundant renewable resources to meet all of its energy needs.
“To a visitor from an earlier century, America in 2021 would be unimaginably advanced in all ways but one: We still rely on dirty and dangerous fossil fuels to meet our energy needs,” said Susan Rakov, chair of Environment America Research and Policy Center’s Clean Energy program. “But it doesn’t have to be that way. This report shows that between the sunshine and the wind, we have the potential to run our society on clean energy, today and in the future.”
The report found that U.S. solar energy resources have the technical potential to meet America’s 2020 electricity demand more than 77 times over, and U.S. onshore and offshore wind resources could meet America’s 2020 demand 11 times over. In addition, all 50 states have sufficient solar or wind potential to meet current electricity needs, and 49 have enough to do so under a 2050 scenario in which energy uses like transportation and buildings run on electricity.
Along with describing renewable potential, the authors highlight the broad agreement among researchers that an energy system powered by renewable sources is within reach. This analysis adds to that body of research by identifying four key strategies that will be essential to transforming the nation’s energy system: building out renewable energy; modernizing the grid; reducing and managing energy use; and replacing direct uses of fossil fuels with electricity to take advantage of clean technologies. The paper points to encouraging trends in technology, prices and adoption that suggest progress in each of the four areas can be further accelerated in the years to come.
“How quickly America shifts toward wind and solar will be decided by how and when we lean into fully erecting the four pillars outlined in this report,” said Emma Searson, 100% Renewable campaign director at Environment America Research & Policy Center. “Given the remarkable technological advances and progress we’ve made so far, we should feel confident in our ability to build each and every one of them.”
The report calls on policymakers at the local, state and federal levels to set ambitious goals for the transition to clean, renewable energy, as well as provide the support needed to ensure clean energy can actually deliver on those goals.
“We know the steps we need to take to ensure a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable future,” Searson said. “But this race won't run itself -- our leaders need to set up some mile markers, lace up their sneakers and start running so that America is in position to tap the abundant renewable resources at our fingertips.”
Environment America Research & Policy Center is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We work to protect the places we love, advance the environmental values we share, and win real results for our environment.
Frontier Group is a nonpartisan research and policy development center, providing information and ideas to help build a cleaner, healthier and more democratic America.
Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group are part of The Public Interest Network. The Public Interest Network runs organizations committed to our vision of a better world, a set of core values, and a strategic approach to getting things done.