Big oil and gas companies pervade the media, downplaying the effectiveness of solar technologies and the massive range of benefits they add to the United States, as well as the entire world. From job creation to reducing pollutants and environmental impact (including our carbon footprint), most agree that renewable resources are the only sustainable energy source of the future. There’s just one problem – making the change isn’t easy.
Naysayers have pointed out that we lack renewable energy infrastructure that is as developed as traditional nonrenewable energy infrastructures. It also seems that a lot of stakeholders in nonrenewable energy big businesses want to make it seem like we are fighting a losing battle, and that we may not ever see the majority of our global energy come from renewable sources in this lifetime.
Well, the good news is that we can make a transition to using 100% renewable energy in as little as one decade. Just imagine if future historians labeled this chapter of American history as the Energy Revolution…
Starting the Transition
Though it is certainly possible to achieve 100% renewable energy in the United States within 10 years, we need to start with the basics. Most people agree that the best way to kick start the transition is to replace coal power with solar, wind, hydro, biomass, geothermal etc. To do this, we would need to drastically increase renewable infrastructure now while responsibly transitioning jobs to this sector with subsidized training programs.
We, as a people need to start investing our resources in education and training for renewable industries as well as using our tax dollars to create incentives for rapid growth. Unfortunately, dirty power industries are still heavily subsidized one way or another to the detriment of our health and environment as well as our economic stability over the long term.
Reducing use is also paramount in this effort. This doesn’t mean making yourself uncomfortable by turning off the A/C or sacrificing quality of life, it just means being smarter about how you do things. For example, upgrading insulation, lighting, HVAC systems, etc. can have a huge impact on the amount of electricity being consumed and will actually make a building more comfortable and healthy (indoor air quality).
Resistance to these ideas is primarily driven by a small group of corporate interests who happen to profit from maintaining the status-quo of wastefulness and inefficiency. In order to see the change, we have to be the change!
Overcoming Larger Challenges
Of course, there are larger challenges to overcome. For example, solar and wind don’t provide constant, steady power around the clock. Therefore, we need an infrastructure that can store power on a grid level, communal level, and perhaps even an individual level. This is currently being implemented via the use of battery systems, heat storage, fuel cells, and flywheel technologies. As these technologies are in the early stages of being scaled up to utility size, expect to see more and more of them being installed within this next decade (especially next generation battery systems). New technologies addressing the problem specifically are also in development and expected to be fully capable of providing round-the-clock power without worry. It is already entirely possible to run an individual home off of renewable power and storage tech.
These challenges are not always easy to overcome, and it isn’t likely that we will, indeed, achieve 100% dependence on renewable energy within the next 10 years (mostly due to outdated policy and entrenched special interests) but, the point is that it is possible, and we expect to transition further and further away from nonrenewable energy sources with each passing year.