In a speech delivered July 17, Nobel Prize winner and environmental advocate Al Gore urged the United States to abandon fossil fuels for electricity production by 2018, akin to President Kennedy’s moonshot challege in the 1960s, citing among other renewable energy factoids that
enough wind power blows through the Midwest corridor every day to also meet 100 percent of US electricity demand.
More specifically, Mr. Gore said that
Today I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years.
The challenge is possible to be issued now, he said, because
the sharp cost reductions now beginning to take place in solar, wind, and geothermal power – coupled with the recent dramatic price increases for oil and coal – have radically changed the economics of energy.
Among other items that need to be addressed is the aging electricity grid:
To be sure, reaching the goal of 100 percent renewable and truly clean electricity within 10 years will require us to overcome many obstacles. At present, for example, we do not have a unified national grid that is sufficiently advanced to link the areas where the sun shines and the wind blows to the cities in the East and the West that need the electricity. Our national electric grid is critical infrastructure, as vital to the health and security of our economy as our highways and telecommunication networks. Today, our grids are antiquated, fragile, and vulnerable to cascading failure. Power outages and defects in the current grid system cost US businesses more than $120 billion dollars a year. It has to be upgraded anyway.
The speech is nothing if not thought-provoking and worth a read.