While 80 percent may be a tough goal, the study mentioned that renewables could fully supply 50 percent of electricity in 2050

A new study shows that renewable energy sources could "adequately" power 80 percent of the United States' electricity demand in 2050.

The Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) published the finding in the Renewable Electricity Futures study. NREL used technologies present and available today to calculate the results.

According to the study, wind, photovoltaics, and biomass power plants will play the largest roles in reaching the 80 percent renewable energy goal. Hydropower, which is the largest renewable player in the game today, will actually be used less over the next few decades.

While increased offshore wind and biomass power plants (instead of just offering biomass to coal plants) will help the U.S. on its way to the 80 percent goal, this will not be easily obtained.

The study notes that 439 gigawatts of wind capacity will be required in 2050 for the U.S. to be adequately supplied by renewables. Currently, there are only 50 gigawatts installed. This means that the U.S. would have to build over 10 gigawatts per year for a little under 40 years. This equals to 2,500 to 3,000 turbines per year. This is a bit lofty.

"Annual renewable capacity additions that enable high renewable generation are consistent with current global production capacities but are significantly higher than recent U.S. annual capacity additions for the technologies considered," said the study. "No insurmountable long-term constraints to renewable electricity technology manufacturing capacity, materials supply, or labor availability were identified."

While 80 percent may be a tough goal, the study mentioned that renewables could fully supply 50 percent of electricity in 2050 without any gaps. Eighty percent was just the adequate supply. This gives renewable energy hope for the future, not to mention new technologies will likely be available by 2050 to help the renewable effort.

Last July, the Energy Information Administration reported that renewable energy production had beat nuclear power in the U.S. in Q1 2011, showing that renewable energy was making its way to the top and may hopefully surpass domestic oil production at some point.

Source: ieee

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