Full Title: Renewable Transition: Separating Perception From Reality
Author(s): Marlene Motyka, Jim Thomson, Craig Rizzo, Mike Piechowski
Publication Date: September 21, 2021
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In just 10 years, renewable energy’s share of US electricity generation has doubled—from 10% in 2010 to 20% in 2020.1 The overwhelming majority of that growth has been in solar and wind energy, which rose at compound annual growth rates of 84% and 15%, respectively, over the decade.2 Despite these impressive gains, the pace will have to accelerate significantly for the United States to achieve clean energy goals. At the end of 2020, the country had more than 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar3 and 122.5 GW of wind power capacity,4 but will need to add as much as 70–100 GW each of solar and wind per year to decarbonize the power sector between 2035 and 2050.5
Most countries are targeting net-zero emissions by 2050, and the US administration supports a goal of emission-free electricity by 2035.6 How difficult will it be to get there? This report explores five of the most commonly raised challenges: comparing costs of wind and solar versus conventional generation, integrating variable renewables, managing supply chain constraints, addressing disaster vulnerability, and meeting future electricity and renewable electricity demand. We also examine the perceptions often voiced, and some industry perspectives, facts, and data around the issues, and what’s required to solve them.