The renewables challenge: Fifty percent reliance by 2050?

PBS’ America Revealed series presenter Yul Kwon, in 2012 remarking on Thomas Edison in “ELECTRIC NATION,” in no uncertain terms, said: “In 1931, Thomas Edison confided to his friend Henry Ford. ‘We are like tenant farmers, chopping down the fence around our house for fuel, when we should be using nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy: sun, wind and tide.’”

Bituminous coal
Bituminous coal

From the same series, it was also revealed that roughly 6,000 power plants are called upon to meet the energy needs of 310 million Americans. Doing the math, that’s one power plant for every 50,000-plus people. Problem is U.S. population isn’t standing still and projections are, by 2050, another 100 million people will call America home. Now add to this that the average American household has no less than 26 different electronics devices on average, and one begins to see really quickly that this country’s energy needs are staggering.

What’s more, Kwon pointed out that half the nation’s energy supply is via coal-fired power plants alone.

Meanwhile, from “With renewables, what’s not to like?” I emphasized America’s nearly 250 million motor vehicles are comprised of cars, buses, trucks, motorcycles, etc. What I did not mention were the 50,000 daily cross-country, regional and local flights in addition to how ever many offshore and inland waterway nautical miles are being logged each day. From this, it isn’t too difficult to comprehend the magnitude of our thirst for – and use of – fuel.

That fossil fuels are in abundance is no excuse to rely on these to meet energy needs to the exclusion of other, more sustainable and renewableDSCN2601 (300x225) resources to do the same. In this regard, California is headed in the right direction in that it has one of the most forward-thinking and commendable programs going to put Californians on a more sustainable energy path. By 2020, one-third of state energy must come from renewable sources. And the Golden State is on track to meet this achievable goal. Now, if only the rest of the world were doing likewise.

Not to fret. Germany, a renewable energy trailblazer, hopefully, will as well be a renewable energy trendsetter. That country has become a paradigm for the rest of the world to follow. If Germany can do this, other countries can too.

And if other countries do follow suit, I have one word: awesome!

I’m also thinking 50-by-’50: Fifty percent renewables reliance by 2050. Will it happen?

– Alan Kandel