Renewable Energy Can Provide 80 Percent of U.S. Electricity by 2050

A comprehensive study by the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) shows that the U.S. can generate most of its electricity from renewable energy by 2050.

The Renewable Electricity Futures Study found that an 80 percent renewables future is feasible with currently available technologies, including wind turbines, solar photovoltaics, concentrating solar power, biopower, geothermal, and hydropower.

The study also demonstrates that a high renewables scenario can meet electricity demand across the country every hour of every day, year-round.

Variable resources such as wind and solar power can provide up to about half of U.S. electricity, with the remaining 30 percent from other renewable sources.

Increasing renewables to supply 80 percent of U.S. electricity does not, however, limit energy choices to one specific pathway. Rather, the NREL study shows that a range of renewable energy scenarios provide the nation with multiple pathways to reach this goal.

Ramping up renewable energy provides significant benefits…

Renewable energy provides substantial benefits for our climate, our health, and our economy. It dramatically reduces global warming emissions, improves public health, and provides jobs and other economic benefits. And since most renewables don’t require water for cooling, they dramatically reduce the water requirements for power production compared to fossil-fueled power plants.

In an 80 percent renewables future, carbon emissions from the power sector would be reduced by 80 percent, and water use would be reduced by 50 percent.

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