Sunday, May 06, 2007

US to Mandate 15% Renewable Electricity by 2020?

This could be huge. 15% renewable energy by 2020 is being considered in the US.

To put this into perspective let me say that by huge I mean grossly inadequate.

Ohh the confusion of it all...i`m effectively saying that near exponential growth untill 2020 is just not good enough. Perhaps if you have seen the latest IPCC report you will realise why, and this gets at the very reason that climate change isn't just another issue, the steepness of the cuts in emissions that are required is daunting!

The target is short of the much hyped 20*20 target, which is wha the EU has committed to but which, likewise is inadequate. 30% by 2020, that is starting to get serious and the EU has committed to this if a post kyoto deal can be struck. Assuming that renewable energies decrease in costs with time and that more innovations take place I think that 30% renewables by 2020, along with energy efficiency and reduced energy demand is along the lines of what is needed for 90% developed world cuts by 2050.

In fact, i switch frequently between despair and hope. We have seen how wind has taken off now that it has passed a certain cost barrier, with only minimal support. If we can get a reasonable price on carbon and a real push behind reneables then i think really huge cuts in emissions could be made.

What i am really waiting for is some faith in a cap and trade system. I firmly believe that a stringent target would lead to all sorts of innovation, much of which would be difficult to track down, lots of small smarter decisions would reduce energy demand and emissions dramatically. Its just a shame that governments don't seem to take markets as seriously when they have potential to save as as when they are desperately avoiding intervening to protect us from unregulated exploitation!

Nothing is linear, that is some reassurance, as time goes by it is impossible to tell if a political and behavioural tipping point is wishful thinking or an inevitable occurrence in the near future.

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