Gore's Audacious Goal: Clean-Energy Grid In Ten Years

Posted by Wonk Room Thu, 17 Jul 2008 14:56:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

Al GoreFormer Vice President Al Gore is set to give a major energy policy speech today, in which he will challenge “the nation to produce every kilowatt of electricity through wind, sun and other Earth-friendly energy sources within 10 years, an audacious goal he hopes the next president will embrace.” Gore is speaking at noon at the Daughter of the American Revolution Constitution Hall in Washington D.C.

The electricity sector is the largest producer of greenhouse gases in the United States, with its fossil-fired power plants and an obsolete power grid generating one-third of all our global warming emissions. Gore’s “unprecedented challenge” is a “moonshot” goal, but it is also on the scale of what is needed to avoid climate catastrophe. To stabilize the climate, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that industrialized nations need to cut emissions to 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels. For the United States, whose emissions have risen 15 percent since 1990, that goal translates to 34 to 48 percent below today’s pollution. Transforming the grid would cut global warming pollution by 33 percent from current levels by 2018—what we need for an even shot to halt our global fever.

Emissions by sector

Moving to all clean electricity would likely spur related reductions in the transportation sector, as the new “smart grid” of electricity distribution designed for renewable sources such as solar and wind power would be able to use plug-in hybrid vehicles for distributed electricity storage. Instead of everyone reliant on a few massive power plants controlled by large utilities, the system would allow both large and small-scale electricity production and storage. The giant wind farms of T. Boone Pickens would be complemented by millions of solar roofs, all feeding into the same dynamic electricity network.


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