Smart Energy Solutions: Increase Renewable Energy
Renewable energy is a practical, affordable solution to our electricity needs. By ramping up renewable energy, we can:
- Reduce air pollution
- Cut global warming emissions
- Create new jobs and industries
- Diversify our power supply
- Decrease dependence on coal and other fossil fuels
- Move America toward a cleaner, healthier energy future
We have the technologies and resources to reliably produce at least 40 percent of our electricity from renewable energy sources within the next 20 years, and 80 percent by 2050.
Energy you can count on
Photo: Tim Phillips/Flickr
Renewable energy is growing rapidly, with record numbers of new wind and solar installations coming online in the US every year. We can readily continue this rapid expansion of renewable energy by utilizing existing technologies, investing in improvements to our electricity system, and making smart policy decisions that move the country toward a clean energy future.
Renewable electricity standards
Photo: Oregon Department of Transportation
A Renewable Electricity Standard (RES)—also called a Renewable Portfolio Standard—requires utility companies to obtain a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources. To date nearly two-thirds of states have established them, with many meeting or exceeding their goals ahead of schedule.
UCS works to strengthen these existing standards, defend them from attacks by the fossil fuel industry, and expand RES policies to new states.
Clean energy tax credits
Appropriate government incentives can be an important tool to speed deployment and reduce costs for clean energy technologies. In recent years there has been modest federal support for renewables like wind and solar power, but it pales in comparison to the large government subsidies that continue to prop up coal, natural gas, and nuclear power.
We need a fair and stable federal tax policy for renewable energy that will attract new investments and maintain the strong growth that renewables have experienced in recent years.
The Production Tax Credit (PTC)—a federal incentive that provides crucial financial support for the first ten years of a renewable energy facility’s operation—offers a striking example of the benefits, and challenges, of establishing smart government policies for renewable energy.
Toward a better, smarter electrical grid
Photo: Diliff/Wikimedia Commons
The power lines, transformers, and control stations that make up our current energy grid are old, increasingly unreliable, and not adequate to handle a significant increase in renewable energy.
To move toward a cleaner energy economy, we must improve our nation’s electrical grid, as well as construct the transmission infrastructure needed to connect renewable energy facilities to cities and regions with high power demand.
Land and wildlife impacts
Renewable energy facilities must be sited and developed in a way that effectively balances land conservation priorities and best protects wild animals and their habitats.
Several states have taken the lead in establishing strong renewable energy policies, most notably in California and the Western States. UCS is working to support and promote California’s efforts, as well as provide scientific analysis for expanding renewable energy in the Midwest and other regions.