Briefing: wind, solar and other clean energy sources could supply 100% of our energy

Environment Colorado Research and Policy Center

Briefing: wind, solar and other clean energy sources could supply 100% of our energy

Link to full report here.

Denver, CO — Wind, solar, and other renewable sources now make up just about 10 percent of the nation’s energy mix, but transitioning to 100 percent clean energy is both necessary and feasible, a coalition of experts said today.

“A 100 percent clean energy future isn’t only technically possible and imperative for slowing climate change,” said Kim Stevens, director of Environment Colorado, who spoke this morning on a renewable energy briefing. “It will also ensure a more resilient electric grid and more stable economy.”

Environment Colorado was joined by key environmental groups working towards a 100% renewable future, for a presentation of new white paper, We Have the Power: 100 Percent Renewable Energy for a Clean, Thriving America, which lays out the whys, wherefores, and how-tos for transforming the nation’s energy supply entirely to wind, solar, and other non-polluting sources.

The panel discussion came as Republicans in the state house move to cut critical clean air programs and pass legislation that could potentially block the Clean Power Plan, a historic rule to tackle climate change and re-power our society.

“To avoid dangerous global warming, scientists are clear that we must leave the vast majority of coal, oil and gas in the ground, and transition off fossil fuels before the middle of the century,” said Travis Madsen, co-author of the paper with Environment America. “The bad news is that we’re running out of time. The good news is that a future powered entirely by clean, renewable energy is well within reach.”

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, based in Golden, the United States has the technical potential to meet its current electricity needs more than 100 times over with solar energy and more than 10 times over with wind energy. And cities  in Colorado are leading the way.

“We’ve prepared for the new energy economy by powering Aspen’s electric utility with 100% renewables. We’re finding our rates are among the lowest in Colorado, and that a commitment to a sustainable future is practical, profitable, and improves local quality of life.” – Steve Skadron, Mayor of Aspen.

“Our state is set to move us forward the Colorado way, which is nothing less than a 100% renewable energy future,” said Bryce Carter, Conservation Programs Manager for the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter.  “Fort Collins has the Zero Energy District smart grid, Denver will soon host one of the largest utility batteries in the region, and Pueblo is host to hundreds of wind energy jobs.  Colorado clearly has a solid foundation of leadership and innovation to a renewable energy future.”

A review of seven detailed studies on clean energy systems conducted to date — by academics, government agencies and nonprofit organizations – suggests there are no insurmountable technological or economic barriers to tapping the country’s vast potential to achieve 100 percent renewable energy. 

Economists predict that we can build a 100 percent renewable energy system at costs comparable to or less than what we would have to spend to continue our reliance on dirty energy.

“Dirty energy sources have no inherent economic advantage over renewable energy,” said Madsen.  “On the contrary, expanding renewable energy creates local jobs that cannot be outsourced, reduces the impact of fossil fuel-induced harm to our environment and health, and safeguards the economy from the volatility of fossil fuel prices.” 

In Paris in December 2015, the nations of the world made a historic commitment to protect our climate, pledging efforts “to limit [global] temperature increase to 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels.” Advocates said the Clean Power Plan was an important step toward transitioning to 100 percent clean energy and fulfilling the Paris climate agreement.

“By setting a course for 100 percent renewable energy, Colorado can begin to reap benefits for our climate, our environment, our health and our economy that will last for generations,” said Stevens.



Environment Colorado is a statewide, citizen funded advocacy organization working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.