Yesterday’s National Journal featured a number of responses from energy voices nationwide to the question, “30 Years From Now: How Will We Power America?” Among those weighing in was PACE Executive Director Lance Brown. An excerpt of his response appears below.
“The Administration and some members of U.S. Congress envision a future in which we obtain most, if not all, of our energy from clean and renewable sources, particularly wind and solar. Between rising oil prices, the uncertainty of the weather, and compelling concerns about the health and environmental effects of fossil fuels, the goal of a totally clean and renewable energy future is indeed a noble one.
This goal, however, is simply unrealistic. Yes, over the next 30 years, it is important to consider clean and renewable sources of energy like wind and solar when developing national energy policy. But, it is equally important to consider and utilize all sources of energy, including coal, oil, natural gas, biomass, hydropower, and nuclear power. We currently obtain about 50 percent of our energy from coal, and about 80 percent from coal, oil, and natural gas. We obtain the remaining 20 percent from nuclear power and renewable sources, primarily biomass, as well as wind, solar, and hydropower. Together, these sources make up a versatile portfolio that allows every area of our country to utilize the sources that make the most sense for them in terms of cost and reliability.
Sunny California, for example, can (and does) rely heavily on solar power, but coal-dependent Missouri and Ohio, to name two, would find it extremely difficult to obtain any solar or wind power in a reliable and cost-effective way.
To put it simply, we cannot rely on just one or two sources to power the entire country, especially not renewable yet intermittent sources like wind and solar, which have already caused cost and reliability issues in states that rely on them…”