Study: wind, solar and other clean energy sources could supply all of our power

Media Contacts
Heather Leibowitz

Environment New York

New York, NY — Wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources now make up just about 10 percent of the nation’s electricity supply, but transitioning to 100 percent clean energy is both necessary and feasible. 

Today, Environment New York released their new white paper, We Have the Power: 100 Percent Renewable Energy for a Clean, Thriving America, which lays out whys, wherefores, and how-to’s for transforming the nation’s energy supply entirely to wind, solar, and other non-polluting sources.

The paper cites the rapidly falling costs of both wind and solar, and notes that the growth in solar has outstripped even clean energy advocates’ expectations.

“Renewable energy has strong public support and clean energy is nearing a tipping point in our economy,” said Heather Leibowitz, Director of Environment New York. “It’s revitalizing local economies, while every day the imperative of addressing our environmental challenges becomes clearer.”

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 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.

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

“New York and Long Island are among the best areas in the country to transition to 100 percent renewable energy sources because we are burdened with high electric rates and blessed with an abundance of renewable energy sources near our areas of greatest demand,” said Gordian Raacke, executive director of the not-for-profit Renewable Energy Long Island. “We have ample sunshine and abundant offshore breezes year-round, and both are available during hot summer days when we consume most electricity.” 

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.

“There’s very little downside to the transition,” said Mark Jacobson of Stanford University, author of several studies showing the feasibility of 100 percent clean energy. “We think this is a winning situation for everyone in the long term.”

Dozens of cities around the country are already leading the way to 100 percent clean energy. Georgetown, Texas, for example, is 90 percent powered by wind power from Amarillo, and will get another ten percent from solar power in West Texas by 2017.

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 a transition to 100 percent clean energy was critical to fulfilling the Paris climate agreement.

“In Paris last December at the COP21 negotiations, the nations of the world recognized the severe risk of climate catastrophe posed should the planet warm to 2 degrees C and beyond, and therefore agreed to keep the temperature well below 2 degrees,” said Robert W. Howarth, Ph.D., who is the David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology at Cornell University. “To reach this goal requires that the world be largely free of fossil fuels by 2050 and that the richest nations such as the United States be largely so by 2035. This is an ambitious but absolutely necessary goal, and one that we can reach by moving quickly to a 100% renewable energy future. This new white paper helps show us the path.”

“We can have healthier and more economically vibrant communities right now, and a livable future for our kids,” said Leibowitz. “But to get there, we need to transform the way we produce and consume energy. The good news is that 100 percent renewable is 100 percent possible.”