Washington Post: “If humans escape climate scientists’ gloomiest projections, if we buy ourselves time to adapt to higher seas and fiercer heat waves, we will likely use more electricity than we do now, and we will make it without emitting greenhouse gases. Today, the United States is running a natural experiment in electricity generation, with a patchwork of policies and power grids. To eliminate electricity’s greenhouse gas emissions, it makes sense to ask: What can we learn from the states that make cleanest power? The chart below shows how the United States has made electricity for the past twenty years, represented as the percentage of power generated from each fuel source. To show how their relative usage has shifted, the fuels are stacked each year from top to bottom in order of percentage…
What’s at stake
- U.S. electricity contributes to climate change. The United States is the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas emitter, and a quarter of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions come from electricity generation. President Biden has set a goal of making 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035.
- The United States needs more electricity, not less. Solving climate change requires more than just decarbonizing electricity generation. It also means electrifying every vehicle and machine that runs on fossil fuels. All that extra demand could require the United States to double its electricity capacity by mid-century.
- There is little consensus on how to decarbonize. Even people who share Biden’s goal — and many do not — disagree vigorously about how to do it. Depending on whom you ask, solar and wind power are too unreliable, nuclear power too expensive and hydroelectric dams too environmentally destructive.”