Alternative sources of energy, like solar and wind, are pushing to take over 90% of the remaining U.S. power grid. (Image Credit: Suganth/Unsplash)
Thirty years ago, the U.S generated enough solar and wind power to surpass one-tenth of 1% of the nation’s electricity, an achievement that took 18 years. Twelve years later, solar and wind increased by another factor of 10. Just last year, solar and wind-generated 10.5% of U.S. electricity. This is because the U.S. power demand hasn’t seen much growth ever since solar and wind hit the 1% milestone.
Solar, wind, and natural gas have replaced coal-fired power, which is an environmental accomplishment. Combined with 2020’s huge emissions decline, this power transition means it won’t be as challenging for the U.S. to reach its Paris Agreement commitment. However, some obstacles lie ahead for other power generation tech. By 2050, U.S. power demand is expected to increase by 30%. While this is ongoing, solar power generation is expected to increase 753% while wind power generation increases 195%.
This is significant because solar and wind is still expected to surpass other power generation technologies. Additionally, any businesses and services that wish to use huge amounts of renewable power must become more supple and innovative to integrate it. The suppleness needs to be sourced from a robust power grid capable of delivering renewable energy from areas where generation is surging to demand centers. It also needs to come from short and long-term energy storage systems.
Meanwhile, innovations depend on how quickly businesses realize that zero-carbon electrons are becoming increasingly sufficient and less costly. In some grids, the solar power supply has already surpassed total demand, presenting both an opportunity and a challenge that businesses could tackle.
In the future, wind and solar are poised to generate 90% of the total power demand in the U.S, with regular energy-generating just 10%. It’s not likely they’ll reach 100%, but it forces other energy sources, including natural gas and coal, to be used less. This causes wind and solar to compete with each other, creating huge opportunities to experiment with innovations that utilize the new electrons.
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