Rhein on Energy and Climate

The US Department of Energy expect the share of wind energy to treble from a minuscule 1.4 percent today to still tiny 4 percent of electricity generation in 2030. This projection is based on targets fixed by states.

It shows the very long way the USA still has to go towards cutting green house gas emissions by 80 percent until 2050, as President Obama has promised to.

The “American Climate and Energy Security Bill”, passed in the House three weeks ago, fixes an additional climate objective for 2030: reduction of green house gases by 40 percent below the 2005 level. This implies fossil energy demand to decline by 40 percent or to be replaced by non-fossil sources – nuclear carbon capture/storage, hydro, wind and solar. It is difficult to see the USA reaching that objective with wind energy supplying only a 4 percent of electricity generation. The USA possesses, indeed, one of the biggest wind potentials on earth; and wind energy is among the most competitive alternative energy sources to date. Wind should therefore play a more substantial role in making the USA a low-carbon society.

The US Department of Energy will need to rapidly establish a better consistency between climate objectives and energy policy actions. Hopefully, this will happen when the Congress will have adopted the “American Climate and Energy Security Act”. If this Act lacks resolution, as is to be feared, the Environmental Protection Agency must try to make up for the deficiencies by very strict enforcement measures.

It would be inexcusable for the USA not to live up to its too modest climate commitments. The international community will very closely watch the US President. His credibility is at stake.

Brussels 14.07.09 Eberhard Rhein

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