We Can Reach a Cheaper, 90% Carbon-Free Grid in 15 Years

What was perceived as unrealistic just 5 years ago is proving to be much more feasible in renewable energy. While solar energy used to be more exclusive from a financial standpoint, prices have dropped dramatically since the implementation of the federal ITC in 2006. Today, a significant amount of American utility companies show a level of commitment to solar as more and more homeowners and business owners adopt the renewable source to reduce electrical expenses.

A recent study from UC Berkeley and GridLab, using the most up-to-date costs for solar, wind, and battery storage, found that it will be incredibly feasible to power the grid from 90% renewable sources by 2035. The extra 10% of supplemental electricity production would come from natural gas, without the need to build more gas plants, which means we would no longer need to burn coal to keep our lights on.

Previous studies were predicting a carbon-free grid by 2050, without factoring in how dramatic the decline of solar costs have really been. Current costs are already cheaper than what the NREL “generously” predicted for 2050 just a few years ago. The proposal also suggests that, with a 90% clean grid, wholesale electricity costs could decrease by up to 13% nationwide. While this may still seem good to be true, and it WILL be challenging to achieve – it’s all in the numbers. We just need proper execution.

Now that you know it’s achievable, how will we be able to reach a 90% clean grid status by 2035? The US will have to install 1,100 gigawatts of more wind and solar capacity by that time, or roughly 70 gigawatts per year, which is over triple what the nation has already completed in any given year. With 65 gigawatts of gas deployed in the US in 2002, it’s not a question of investment and deployment – just a shift in the actual materials being deployed.

According to Energy Innovation VP Sonia Aggarwal, “Passing federal policy as soon as possible is a huge step in the right direction … At the same time, I think the scale-up of potential deployment within the renewable energy industry will be really important to pay attention to.”

Homeowners interested in lowering their expensive electric bills are encouraged to see if they qualify for an environmentally-friendly energy source like solar panels: suntuitysolar.com/save.