US electricity generation should be based on the following sources:
- Hydroelectric — part of the stable supply base — not expected to grow. Large hydro capacity may shrink due to reservoir siltation, water shortages, and dam removal.
- Coal — part of the stable supply base — is domestically abundant. Currently, the cheapest but most carbon intensive solution. Growth rate depends on friendlier GHG technologies (like IGCC and CCS). The main “work horse” for the foreseeable future.
- Nuclear — part of the stable supply base but dependent on aging plants. Need to grow despite political challenges. The best solution for global warming.
- Geothermal — part of the stable supply base — large potential for fast growth. Depending on successful technology testing in the coming years and availability of resources. The best solution for global warming and the environment. Has the potential to become the largest renewable/sustainable source.
- Natural Gas — the “gap filler” — currently required to offset the variability of renewable energy. It will grow depending on price. Requires careful attention, since it is also the basis for many of the materials and services we use today. Requires careful management. We don’t want to over use this limited resource.
- Wind — part of the fluctuating supply, domestically abundant. Expected to grow quickly in the short term. Longer term depends on a solution to storage and transmission problems. Construction costs and distance from consumption centers limits growth.
- Solar — part of the fluctuating supply — expected to grow quickly in the short term. Longer term development depends on a solution to storage problems. Currently economic only with government and utility subsidies, but costs are steadily declining.
- Fusion — long term solution — depending on the technology breakthrough.
- Other sources like waste, bio-mass, heat pumps or new inventions.