OBAMA, GORE, GREENPEACE – HOW LONG WILL THIS BE GOIN’ ON?
Actions speak louder than words – except in politics. Nothing is louder than the onslaught of the chattering classes. The sheer volume of words is enough to turn any head.
The present administration’s New Energy policy has, despite its rhetoric, emerged in a series of ineffectual programs (the Solar America Initiative without extending the investment tax credit), bright but unsupported policy forecasts (20% Wind By 2030 without extending the production tax credit), misguided targets with weak standards (boosting the boondoggle of corn ethanol while fighting strong vehicle mileage requirements) and foot-dragging on permitting processes (for offshore wind, ocean energies and solar power plants).
All this went on while the Old Energies rolled in profits and critics complained that the U.S. had no national energy policy.
In recent months, Al Gore and Boone Pickens and a wide variety of think tanks and environmental organizations have spoken out with forward-looking energy plans. Unfortunately, the net effect is somewhat confusing.
Science and energy writer Michael Schirber pointed out that while Gore says the shift to 100% New Energy can come in 10 years, Greenpeace International sees it taking until 2090.
Former Vice President Al Gore, Nobel Peace Prize laureate for work on global climate change, on his 10-year plan: "This goal is achievable, affordable and transformative…"
Sven Teske, renewable energy campaign, Greenpeace International: "Al Gore can say 10 years because he is Al Gore…We can actually back up our  targets."
President-elect Obama has not made such promises or predictions. Instead, he has proposed action: "...I strongly agree with Vice President Gore that we cannot drill our way to energy independence, but must fast-track investments in renewable sources of energy like solar power, wind power and advanced biofuels, and those are the investments I will make as President…”
The incoming President also plans to fight for a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) requiring U.S. utilities to obtain 10% of their power from New Energy sources by 2012 and 25% by 2025.
And the President-elect recently reiterated his commitment to work for a greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs) reductions program that will target getting the U.S. to 1990 GHG levels by 2020 and to 80% of present levels by 2050.
In comparison to what came before, these goals are truly noble. They are neither as bold and optimistic as the Gore plan nor as universal and comprehensive as the Greenpeace plan.
Whether the nonstop action of Obama’s coming fight for a New Energy economy will quiet the vociferous naysayers Old Energy and the screaming idealists dreaming tomorrow remains to be seen. Or heard.
President-elect Obama: “Today we begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inhabit today.”
From the Gore plan, demonstrating how doable such a grand undertaking really is. (click to enlarge)
Power of the Future: A Timeline to Energy Independence
Michael Schirber, November 19, 2008 (LiveScience via Yahoo News)
President-elect Barack Obama; Former Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Al Gore; The European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) and Greenpeace International; Science and energy writer Michael Schirber
From the Obama New Energy plan, the Al Gore Repower America plan, the EREC/Greenpeace Energy [R]Evolution 2008 and other public plans and policy proposals, Schirber constructed a time line for what changes might reasonably be expected to come when.
An Energy [R]Evolution. From Greenpeace via YouTube.
- 2009: (1) World leaders meet in Copenhagen, Denmark, to design a follow-up to the Kyoto Protocol. (2) All new homes built in Germany have renewable energy heating systems.
- 2010: (1) 5.2% reduction in GhGs from 1990 levels is achieved by those countries that signed the Kyoto Protocol. (2) 20% of California's electricity comes from renewables. (3) Toyota releases a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle
- 2012: The London Olympics is a low-carbon, zero-waste games.
- 2014: No more incandescent bulbs sold in the United States, as proscribed by 2007 Energy Bill.
- 2018: (1) 100% of U.S. electricity comes from solar, wind and other renewables (Gore's prediction). (2) $255 billion spent per year (more than four times what is currently spent) on biofuels, wind power, solar photovoltaics, and hydrogen fuel cells, according to market research firm Clean Edge. (3) $150 billion invested by this date by the U.S. government on climate-friendly energy development (Obama's plan).
- 2020: (1) All new cars are hybrids, according to an anonymous survey of car industry executives by IBM's Institute for Business Value. (2) 35 miles per gallon is average for the U.S. fleet. (3) 20% of the European Union's energy comes from renewables. (3) 15% of China's energy comes from renewables. (4) Sweden is oil-free.
- 2022: 36 billion gallons of biofuels sold in the United States, up from 4.7 billion gallons in 2007.
- 2025: 25% of U.S. electricity comes from renewables (Obama's plan).
- 2030: (1) 50% increase in world energy demand from 2005 levels, according to U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). (2) All new federal buildings are carbon-neutral, as stated in 2007 Energy Act. (3) 70% of Hawaii's energy comes from renewables, thanks in part to a ban on new coal plants. (4) One-fifth of U.S. power comes from wind, the DOE predicts. (5) One-fourth of U.S. workers wear a green collar, according to the American Solar Energy Society. (6) 20 million new jobs created by renewable industry, says United Nations report.
- 2050: 50% of the world's energy comes from renewables, claims the Energy [R]Evolution Report.
2090: 100% of the world's energy comes from renewables, claims the Energy [R]evolution Report
The Gore and Obama plans apply to the U.S. while Energy [R]Evolution applies to the world.
- The Obama-Biden New Energy for America plan:
- 5 million new jobs by $150 billion “strategically” invested over 10 years in building New Energy and Energy Efficiency.
- Cut oil imports from the Middle East and Venezuela in 10 years.
- Put 1 million Plug-In hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) on the road by 2015.
- 10% RES by 2012, 25% by 2025.
- Cap-and-trade to cut GhGs 80% by 2050.
- Crack down onf excessive energy speculation anmd use oil from the SPR.
- Up Fuel Economy Standards.
- $7,000 Tax Credit for advanced fuel vehicle purchases.
- A national Low Carbon Fuel Standard.
- “Use it or Lose It” on oil and gas leases and promote responsible domestic production.
- Weatherize 1 million homes/year.
- Develop and deploy “clean” coal.
- Prioritize the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline.
- Repower America is a 10-year program.
- Nuclear and conventional hydropower generation remain constant, providing 23% of the 2020 projected demand.
- National policies and programs take 28% off the 2020 projected demand.
- Baseload geothermal power grows to 20-to-25 gigawatts, about 3%-4% of the projected demand.
- Solar power plants with 8-hour storage capabilities meet 10%-to-13% of the projected demand (110-to-180 gigawatts).
- Wind grows to 315-to-400 gigawatts, providing 23%-to-27% of the projected demand. This would be 125,000-to-200,000 2-to-2.5 megawatt turbines on-shore and off-shore. 300,000 airplanes were built in the US during WWII.
- Solar PV projects will provide 3%-to-6% of the projected demand.
- A few pilot CCS projects (85% emissions-free) could provide 20 gigawatts, 4% of the necessary generation.
- Biomass and hydrokinetic (wave, current, and tide) energies may play a part.
- Extensive new transmission and “smart” transmission will be necessary.
From the Greenpeace/EREC plan. (click to enlarge)
- Energy [R]Evolution 2008 sees the world entirely fueled by New Energy (solar, wind, hydrokinetic, biogas, etc.) by 2090.
- The 210-page report’s publishing groups see climate change as the crucial factor driving the transition.
- The report looks in detail at how energy use would have to be changed to meet the IPCC’s call for greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
- The EREC/Greenpeace plan would cut emissions enough to prevent a temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) from the pre-Industrial Revolution norm.
Measures called for:
(1) A phase-out of subsidies for fossil fuels and nuclear energy;
(2) International "cap and trade" systems for greenhouse gas emissions;
(3) Legally binding international targets for New Energy capacities;
(4) Rigorous international efficiency standards for buildings and vehicles.
- The International Energy Agency (IEA) foresees New Energy investments of just $11.3 trillion to 2030 and expects the world to remain dependent on fossil fuels and nuclear power through mid-century.
He promised it in the campaign, he promised the same thing last week and he continues to talk about it as an integral part of his economic recovery program. It’s pretty clear he’s going to do it. From BarackObamaDotCom via YouTube.
- Sven Teske, renewable energy campaign, Greenpeace International: "We hope we have some positive influence in making it easier for politicians to agree on tough emission reductions…"
- From Energy [R]Evolution 2008: "Renewable energy could provide all global energy needs by 2090…"
- Rajendra Pachauri, head, IPCC: "[The study is] comprehensive and rigorous…Even those who may not agree with the analysis presented would, perhaps, benefit from a deep study of the underlying assumptions…"
- Dr. James Hansen, Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, on the Gore plan: "This is just what the doctor ordered -- to cure our carbon addiction and stimulate the economy. It would be the turning point that is needed to lead the world to a stable climate."
- Senator John McCain (R-Ariz), on the Gore plan: "If the vice president says it's doable, I believe it's doable…I agree with his goal. I may disagree with all the ways of getting there…I do believe that his goals and his priorities and the visibility that he's given the issue has been good for America and the world."