This week, there’s a nice article from Worldwatch with statistics on exactly how fast renewable energy is growing in the United States. The good news is, it’s growing rapidly — especially electricity from wind and geothermal.
But it made me wonder, exactly how much of our electricity already comes from renewable sources? Well, according to this fact sheet from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), it’s about 8.5 percent, and almost all of that is from hydropower — 6 percent.
Where are we going? One EIA projection says that we could be at 12.6 percent renewable electricity by 2030. Not very inspiring, is it? However, the U.S. Department of Energy also projects that we could produce 20 percent of our electricity from wind by 2030 if we address several challenges, including the need for additional transmission lines.
On the other hand, Al Gore recently challenged the country to set the audacious goal of getting 100 percent of our electricity from renewables within 10 years, so by 2018. It’s easy to see why he compared it to the challenge of putting a man on the moon: That would be a huge leap forward from where we are now. But it might be just the push we need to make the transition to renewable energy.
What about the presidential candidates? On his campaign Web site, Barack Obama specifically calls for 10 percent of our electricity to come from renewable sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025. (On his Web site, John McCain doesn’t suggest a specific goal for renewable electricity, but does say he favors support for renewables, including through tax credits.)
What kind of goals for renewable energy do you think the United States should aim for? Share your comments below.