America Has The Potential To Shift To 90 Percent Zero-Carbon Electricity By 2035

By on July 20, 2020

While there have been disagreements about a 100% shift to zero-carbon electricity by the year 2050, many scientists agree on at least 80-90%. Recent news has brought the year closer to 2035. All bless the rapid negative shift in batteries, wind turbines, and solar panels’ cost! 

A study by researchers at UC Berkeley believes that zero-carbon electricity can supply and fulfill at least 90% of our needs by 2035. The cherry on the cake is that they say it won’t mean any extra price hike for the consumers. 

A co-author of the study, Ric O’Connell, said that instead of focusing on a complete shift, they are focusing on a gradual shift

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The clean energy project will be funded by ratepayers after they complete their payment to the old power plants that use coal and gas. That’s why the consumers won’t have to pay anything extra. Furthermore, clean carbon-free electricity will reduce pollution, and as a result, health care expenses will also be cut. 

Source: UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy

The researchers further noted that all the coal-driven power plants will be put offline. Whatever gas-powered plants remain, will be used only when in absolute need. In this way, 70% of the power supply will be generated by solar and wind power, along with battery storage. 20% of the power will be generated by nuclear and hydropower. Meanwhile, a mere 10% will come from fossil fuel. 

Renewable energy has seen a consistent fall in its cost in the last few years. As per Lazard, wind power’s price saw a fall of 70% in the last 12 years. The price of batteries too has seen a drop of around 90% since 2010, as per Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The drop in battery cost has made a significant change in this case as it will store energy and provide it for a longer period of time. 

However, the researchers are also practical in their vision and say that this shift can take place only if the lawmakers are on their side. They point out that the damage fossil fuels are doing to the environment and human health is humongous. And this is why they have also released a proposed policy paper. The paper includes changes such as tax credits to renewable energy sources and national standards for zero-carbon electricity. 

Source: UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy

The researchers are also hopeful about this new system bringing in close to a million jobs in one year. This labor-intensive mode could possibly be a gateway out of the spitballing economy for the U.S. 

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Especially during this time of COVID-19, which affects our respiratory system, a shift to zero-carbon electricity would do wonders for all. 

A professor from Stanford University, Mark Jacobson, commended the study but also said that it can be more ambitious. His research says that the country can be powered by solely hydro, wind, and solar sources by 2050.

Meanwhile, O’Connell responded by saying that their focus is on how fast they can bring about change, and not how much. Either way, it looks like the country will have widespread zero-carbon electricity by the mid-century. 

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