Across the country and around the world, local, regional, and national governments are setting renewable energy goals. There are 100 percent renewable projects happening across the United States. From companies like Whole Foods and Google to towns like my hometown of East Hampton to large cities like San Diego, Boulder, and Salt Lake City. Around the world, entire nations—including Denmark, Costa Rica, Iceland, New Zealand, and more—are pledging to go 100 percent renewable.
How is it possible to achieve 100 percent renewable energy? It depends on the development of renewable energy on a grid scale: replacing oil- and coal-powered electricity plants with plants powered by renewable sources and/or investing in renewable energy-producing technologies. For example, on the east end of Long Island, we evaluated the cost of putting in a newer power plant versus the cost of developing renewable offshore wind energy. The offshore wind farm ended up being the cheapest out of all the energy-producing technologies.
Now, not all communities have the ability to build a renewable grid or generate enough renewable energy to fulfill the needs of the community. However, they can still become 100 percent renewable through initiatives like Community Choice Aggregation (CCA).
In CCA, a community or municipality brings together all of its energy users to form a buying cooperative to purchase electricity. Say a community has 100,000 people using one million kilowatts per hour. Instead of depending on their local utility, the CCA leverages the combined buying power of all those users to put out a Request For Proposal to purchase electricity from any source they choose.
It is possible to get electricity from a wind farm in the Midwest, or a solar farm in the Southwest, or a hydroelectric plant in Niagara or the St. Lawrence Seaway, whether you are geographically close to those sources or not. This is done through a mechanism called Renewable Energy Credits, or RECs. RECs work similarly to carbon offsets: the purchase of RECs justifies the electricity as renewable, regardless of its source.
If a municipality wants all of its electricity to be renewable but does not have the capability to access or provide that renewable energy itself, they can adopt a CCA and create a 100 percent renewable grid by purchasing 100 percent renewable energy from sources around the country. Westchester County, a bedroom community north of New York City, recently adopted a CCA—the first in New York to do so.
RECs can also be used by individuals—with RECs, you can become a 100 percent renewable energy user! Say someone builds a solar farm; for every kilowatt of energy the farm produces, they earn a REC, which is almost identical to a carbon offset credit. Like carbon offset credits, RECs are sold on a marketplace. If you, as an individual, want all the electricity in your house to be 100 percent renewable, you can purchase RECs off the marketplace equal to the amount of energy you use.
The fact is, there are sufficient technologies available today to provide all the world’s energy needs with renewable energy. We have wind turbines and offshore wind farms. We have solar farms in areas like California to take advantage of the endless sunshine, and in the desert where the irradiance from the sunlight and its reflection off the sand produces a huge amount of electricity very efficiently. We have hydroelectric power generated by the wonders of Planet Earth, like Niagara Falls. All it takes is individuals, communities, and corporations to all commit to using renewable energy.
A mechanism is here that can accomplish all of this. In Decarbonize the World, I introduce you to ICEMAN®― International Carbon Equivalent Mechanism Attributed to Neutrality―an innovative climate change solution that applies established sciences and protocols to calculate and communicate a product’s carbon footprint. Get your copy today!