Renewable Energy Sources to Have Potential to Dominate the Energy Mix by 2050

on Jun 26, 2012

Renewable energy has been on everyone’s lips for quite some time. Some praise it and claim that it’s the future, others doubt its potential to become a truly cheap and abundant energy solution. And while renewables are gaining strong support, the question remains: can solar, wind, geothermal, wave and the other sources of green energy become a legitimate replacement of traditional energy sources like nuclear and fossil fuels power plants? Apparently, the answer to that question is “yes”, at least according to a report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), claiming that renewable energy can supply 80% of electricity demand in US by 2050.

The technology existing today is capable of producing that capacity and can play a major role in the future in meeting the needs for electricity in US. The country has more than enough resources, the report says, to support different combinations of renewable technology that can reduce significantly greenhouse gas emissions and water use in the electric sector.

But while the needed technology and resources exist today, there is another important factor that is required to enable the adoption of green energy on a large scale – a more flexible electric system that would provide efficient distribution and usage of the produced energy and would balance supply with demand.
!m[](/uploads/story/95/thumbs/pic1_inline.png)”While this analysis suggests such a high renewable generation future is possible, a transformation of the electricity system would need to occur to make this future a reality” the report says.

This increased flexibility can be achieved by a combination of flexible conventional generation, grid storage, new transmission more responsive loads, and changes in power system operations. Every element of the new system has to be planned carefully to ensure that the transformation will support the adoption of new advanced technologies, business models and market rules.

Overall the report remains positive about the prospects of renewable energy, claiming that there aren’t any insurmountable long-term constraints that could prevent its wide-spread adoption across the country.
As in many other studies, the main conclusion from the report is that lowering production costs and improving the performance of renewable technology is crucial for the reduction of incremental cost of renewables. The good news is that similar processes are already starting to develop.

Today, there is a steep slide in solar prices and many companies, working in that space are developing more efficient technologies. Other types of renewable such as wind and geothermal have also benefitted from technological advancements, not to mention the recent natural gas boom and its low prices.
Another report published by Greenpeace the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) back in 2010 focuses of the role of green energy on a global scale, stating that renewables could supply 95% of the world’s electricity by 2050, creating more than 12 million new jobs. While 2050 seems a really long way from now, the “going green” trend is more than visible on today’s energy landscape. And it isn’t just a wild prediction to say that renewables will play huge part in the global energy mix.


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