The Biggest Problem With Renewable Energy is Political

#Future

Tue, Mar 26th, 2013 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

Despite television ads and politicians telling the public that fossil fuels are needed for the foreseeable future leaving us with little choice to frack for natural gas and build pipelines, Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, says that the United States could be powered by renewable sources right now. "The biggest obstacles are social and political — what you need is the will to do it."

People convinced that America “needs” the oil that would flow south from Canada through the Keystone XL pipeline might be surprised to learn that Canada produced 63.4 percent of its electricity from renewable sources in 2011, largely from hydropower and a bit of wind. (Maybe that is why Canada has all that oil to sell.) The United States got only 12.3 percent of its electricity from renewables in 2011. Still, many experts say that aggressively rebalancing the United States’ mix of fossil fuel and renewable energy to reduce its carbon footprint may well be impractical and unwise for now.

“There is plenty of room for wind and solar to grow and they are becoming more competitive, but these are still variable resources — the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow,” said Alex Klein, the research director of IHS Emerging Energy Research, a consulting firm on renewable energy. “An industrial economy needs a reliable power source, so we think fossil fuel will be an important foundation of our energy mix for the next few decades.”

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