SOLAR BEER! Allagash Brewing's solar array, Portland, Maine. Creative Commons license 2.0

The Biden administration yesterday released an Energy Department study examining how the US could meet nearly half its energy needs with solar power by 2050. The report is a practical blueprint for expanding solar energy in the US, as part of the overall national goal of getting off the fossil fuel teat. President Joe Biden has set a goal of 100 percent clean energy transmission by 2035, and of reaching net zero greenhouse emissions in the economy by 2050. The new Energy Department analysis is just one part of how we can get there.

And as the Washington Post explains, the new study indicates such a massive expansion of solar is both ambitious and, holy mother of Crom, achievable. The analysis

shows how the United States can scale up production of solar panels, which now provide 3 percent of the nation's electricity, to 45 percent over the next three decades. It would entail the United States doubling its installed solar power every year for the next four years, compared with 2020, and then doubling it again by 2030.

The DOE's Solar Futures Study itself emphasizes that solar energy development would have to be coupled with improvements across the US energy system, with expansion of wind power, electricity storage technology, and grid infrastructure that can more nimbly get power from where it's produced to where it's needed. (As energy reporter David Roberts points out, grid reform is sexy. Or at least vital to making clean energy practical.)


In a statement, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm touted the study and reminded people that, oh, hey, Joe Biden has a plan for that, too. She said shifting rapidly to clean energy is quite doable, since the DOE study

projects that solar energy could provide 40 percent of the nation's electricity by 2035 and employ as many as 1.5 million people without boosting electricity prices.

That analysis, however, assumes Congress would fund several of the clean energy investments and policies that Biden has proposed but which have yet to be enacted.

"Achieving this bright future requires a massive and equitable deployment of renewable energy and strong decarbonization polices — exactly what is laid out in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and President Biden's Build Back Better agenda," Granholm said in a statement.

David Roberts explained that bit about not increasing the cost of electricity last night on MSNBC's "All in With Chris Hayes," and even went a bit farther than Granholm, arguing that we "can drive 95 percent of the greenhouse gases out of the US electricity sector by 2035 with no extra cost to electricity ratepayers," because

when you stop using fossil fuels, you stop having to buy fossil fuels, and you stop having to maintain fossil fuel infrastructure. You save a lot of money. You get a lot more work out of electricity than you do out of fossil fuels, like on a per-unit basis. So, there are immense savings in efficiency just through switching to electricity.

So — and that`s not even taking into account the health and climate benefits of ramping down all those fossil fuel power plants. If you — if you bring those in, the benefits swamp the costs.

Now, yes, there'd be the costs of retiring all those fossil fuel plants and pipelines, too, as well as the expense of, as Roberts put it, "basically rebuilding a new electricity grid" that will rely on sources that may vary with the weather, so we'll need a lot of new transmission lines to move that power around. So it'll be pricey, and subsidized by government spending, but it'll also create millions of jobs. And if it sounds pricey, you also have to consider that the costs of climate change will be far higher. Energy market boffins are already recognizing that renewables make more sense than continued use of fossil fuels, particularly coal. Plus, there's that whole investing in a sustainable future thing that will keep the planet habitable for future humans, who might be glad we did it.

Or to put it more dourly, as the New Yorker's climate columnist Bill McKibben recently said,

The eventual outcome is not in doubt: eventually, the planet will run on renewable energy. But how long that transition takes will determine what kind of shape we leave the planet in.

But back to the nice-timesiness of this, at least somewhat: While touring the damage done by Hurricane Ida in New York and New Jersey, President Biden made the case that if we don't want to see a lot more such extreme weather events, the world has to kick its fossil fuel addiction.

"We're going to be able to do these things, but we've got to move," he said. "We've got to move."

"And so, folks, this summer alone, communities with over 100 million Americans … have been struck by extreme weather," he added. "One in every three Americans has been victimized by severe weather — the hurricanes along the Gulf, the East Coast, up through this community. And I saw the human and physical costs firsthand, as I said, in Louisiana."

We do like that the Post added a link to its own sobering reporting on how a third of Americans this year has been in an area hit by extreme weather — not just the hurricanes, but also the western wildfires, the recent flash flooding in Kentucky, and the extreme cold in Texas earlier this year.

How is that "nice time" news? We have a president who knows that to keep the situation from getting worse, the answer is global elimination of fossil fuels as quickly as possible, with forest raking only as a recreational activity.

[WaPo / US Department of Energy / Volts newsletter / MSNBC / Inside Climate News / Photo: Allagash Brewing, Creative Commons license 2.0]

Yr Wonkette is funded entirely by reader donations. If you can, please help us keep this little mommyblog powered up with a $5 or $10 monthly donation!

Do your Amazon shopping through this link, because reasons.

How often would you like to donate?

Select an amount (USD)

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

Donate

How often would you like to donate?

Select an amount (USD)

Newsletter

©2018 by Commie Girl Industries, Inc