A new Pew Center study argues that Federal government policies are critical to the success of solar and wind power. The study states that without significant action from the government, renewable energy will account for about 14% of all US electricity in 2030. The keys to increasing the level of renewable energy to 30% by 2030 are:
1. Putting a price on carbon (e.g., cap and trade system).
2. Investing billions per year in transmission systems.
3. Moving towards distributed or building based energy systems rather than purely utility based distribution. This applies to solar, not to wind.
4. Developing electricity storage systems.
5. Making wind and solar cost competitive.
The question is why the Pew Study pegs 30% renewables by 2030 as the "high" renewable scenario. If we can move down the cost curve, develop storage and battery technologies, and encourage private-public cooperation, can't we do better than that? If we don't, what are the consequences?