Former Vice President Al Gore is challenging the United States to obtain 100 percent of its electricity from zero-carbon-emission sources within ten years.
In a speech sponsored by the ï¿½Weï¿½ Campaign, Gore called for increases in wind, solar, and geothermal power sources, while the nation would ï¿½retainï¿½ its existing nuclear and hydroelectric generation.
He also called for increased energy efficiency and safe capture and storage of carbon emissions from coal- and gas-fired generation. He added that the nation should build a unified national transmission grid to move power from areas rich in renewable energy to areas where the power is needed.
ï¿½Our success depends on our willingness as a people to undertake this journey and to complete it within ten years,ï¿½ Gore said in a statement issued by the ï¿½Weï¿½ Campaign. ï¿½Once again, we have an opportunity to take a giant leap for humankind.ï¿½
Gore’s call for 100 percent zero-carbon-emissions power compares to renewables portfolio standards required in a number of states generally phasing in about 20 percent of electricity from renewables, but not counting carbon capture from fossil plants. The European Union seeks to cut overall carbon emissions by about 20 percent by 2020 and to increase the use of renewables including hydropower by a similar percentage by that date. (HNN 3/17/08)
Gore: ï¿½Retainï¿½ existing hydro
The statement included no indication that an increase in hydropower generation would be encouraged.
ï¿½We should retain the existing fossil-fuel-free energy production from nuclear and hydroelectric power,ï¿½ was the statement’s only mention of hydropower, the United States’ largest carbon-free renewable energy source.
A 2007 study by the Electric Power Research Institute found at least 23,000 MW of additional capacity, including hydrokinetic and wave energy, could be brought on line by 2025. (HNN 4/16/08) Under a most optimistic scenario, the study estimated possible maximum development of 95,000 MW.
Gore, who won a Nobel Prize for his global warming film, ï¿½An Inconvenient Truth,ï¿½ complained that the U.S. is borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it ï¿½in ways that destroy the planet.ï¿½
ï¿½The answer is to end our reliance on carbon-based fuels,ï¿½ he said. ï¿½… This goal is achievable, affordable, and transformative. It represents a challenge to all Americans in every walk of life: our political leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers, and every citizen.ï¿½
The ï¿½Weï¿½ Campaign, coordinated by the Alliance for Climate Protection, is described as a commercial-scale organizing and mobilizing effort using paid advertising, grassroots partnerships, and online activism to build support for climate change solutions. It said it plans to be the largest public policy advocacy campaign reaching 10 million members within three years. Gore is the founder of the Alliance for Climate Protection.