Today the impediments to transforming our energy use and dramatically lowering environmental costs and financial waste are not technical or economical but largely political and social. Conventional wisdom is just plain stubbornly dumb and must be overcome. The David Suzuki Foundation offers an excellent summary of recent studies and solutions here, see: Canada is ready for a transformative energy solution.
“You’ve probably heard the arguments: wind doesn’t always blow, sun doesn’t always shine, the technology’s not advanced enough, installations take up too much space, we need sources of baseload power that can only come from fossil fuels or nuclear power. And so we carry on, rushing to squeeze every last drop of oil and gas from the ground using increasingly difficult and destructive methods like fracking, deep-sea drilling and oil sands extraction, with seemingly little concern for what we’ll do after we’ve burned it all”.
A lot of research is challenging those skeptical assumptions, including some by the David Suzuki Foundation, working with the Trottier Energy Futures Project. “Canada has vast renewable energy resources in the form of hydropower, solar, wind energy, and biomass, as well as geothermal, wave, and tidal resources that are many times larger than current or projected levels of total fuel and electricity consumption,” the recent Trottier report, “An Inventory of Low-Carbon Energy for Canada”, concludes.
Those findings are confirmed by research and experience elsewhere in the world. A study by engineers at Stanford University reports, “it is technically and economically feasible to convert New York’s all-purpose energy infrastructure to one powered by wind, water and sunlight,” and doing so “shows the way to a sustainable, inexpensive and reliable energy supply that creates local jobs and saves the state billions of dollars in pollution-related costs.”
An article in the New York Times points to research by the Paris-based International Energy Agency, showing, “Thirteen countries got more than 30 percent of their electricity from renewable energy in 2011.”
The Stanford study’s lead author, engineering professor Mark Z. Jacobson, told the New York Times, “You could power America with renewables from a technical and economic standpoint. The biggest obstacles are social and political — what you need is the will to do it.”