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Gore’s Challenge to the US: 100% Zero-Carbon Electricity in 10 Years

In a major speech given today at the DAR Constitution Hall in Washington DC, former Vice President Al Gore challenged the US to end its reliance on carbon-based fuels and to “commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years.”

While the primary focus of his speech was on power generation, Gore noted that the value and efficiency of an advanced, unified national power grid could be further increased by helping the auto industry switch to the manufacture of plug-in electric cars. “An electric vehicle fleet would sharply reduce the cost of driving a car, reduce pollution, and increase the flexibility of our electricity grid.

Gore said that the combination of serious economic, environmental and national security crises the US faces represent a “present danger” that puts “the survival of the United States of America as we know it...at risk.” The common core of all of these challenges, he said, is “our dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels.”

A few years ago, it would not have been possible to issue such a challenge. But here’s what’s changed: the sharp cost reductions now beginning to take place in solar, wind, and geothermal power—coupled with the recent dramatic price increases for oil and coal—have radically changed the economics of energy.

...To those who argue that we do not yet have the technology to accomplish these results with renewable energy: I ask them to come with me to meet the entrepreneurs who will drive this revolution. I’ve seen what they are doing and I have no doubt that we can meet this challenge.

To those who say the costs are still too high: I ask them to consider whether the costs of oil and coal will ever stop increasing if we keep relying on quickly depleting energy sources to feed a rapidly growing demand all around the world. When demand for oil and coal increases, their price goes up. When demand for solar cells increases, the price often comes down.

...To those who say 10 years is not enough time, I respectfully ask them to consider what the world’s scientists are telling us about the risks we face if we don’t act in 10 years. The leading experts predict that we have less than 10 years to make dramatic changes in our global warming pollution lest we lose our ability to ever recover from this environmental crisis. When the use of oil and coal goes up, pollution goes up. When the use of solar, wind and geothermal increases, pollution comes down.

...I for one do not believe our country can withstand 10 more years of the status quo. Our families cannot stand 10 more years of gas price increases. Our workers cannot stand 10 more years of job losses and outsourcing of factories. Our economy cannot stand 10 more years of sending $2 billion every 24 hours to foreign countries for oil. And our soldiers and their families cannot take another 10 years of repeated troop deployments to dangerous regions that just happen to have large oil supplies.

What could we do instead for the next 10 years? What should we do during the next 10 years? Some of our greatest accomplishments as a nation have resulted from commitments to reach a goal that fell well beyond the next election: the Marshall Plan, Social Security, the interstate highway system. But a political promise to do something 40 years from now is universally ignored because everyone knows that it’s meaningless. Ten years is about the maximum time that we as a nation can hold a steady aim and hit our target.

Reaching the goal of 100% zero-carbon electricity in 10 years faces a number of obstacles, Gore noted, including the lack of a unified national grid sufficiently advanced to link areas with good potential for wind and solar power generation to the rest of the country.

Our national electric grid is critical infrastructure, as vital to the health and security of our economy as our highways and telecommunication networks. Today, our grids are antiquated, fragile, and vulnerable to cascading failure. Power outages and defects in the current grid system cost US businesses more than $120 billion dollars a year. It has to be upgraded anyway.

...We are on the eve of a presidential election. We are in the midst of an international climate treaty process that will conclude its work before the end of the first year of the new president’s term. It is a great error to say that the United States must wait for others to join us in this matter. In fact, we must move first, because that is the key to getting others to follow; and because moving first is in our own national interest. So I ask you to join with me to call on every candidate, at every level, to accept this challenge—for America to be running on 100 percent zero-carbon electricity in 10 years. It'’ time for us to move beyond empty rhetoric. We need to act now.

Resources

Comments

LiveFreeOrDie

Al Gore and B. Pickens should team up and make a huge impact. I really enjoyed today's Meet the Press interview.

Guys, be sure to sign up at http://push.pickensplan.com/ to make a difference in mass adoption of wind energy.

Neither Gore nor Pickens have provided anything like a plan. They have demonstrated the ability for self promotion.

Troy

"Neither Gore nor Pickens have provided anything like a plan. They have demonstrated the ability for self promotion."

You are indeed right about Gore. He's full of hot air. And it was very obvious from watching him on Meet the Press that he hasn't got a clue. He seems to think that electricity is dependent on foreign oil. He doesn't know jack about energy or where it comes from. He's just confused and he's confusing other people that don't know. He thinks that in 10 years we'll all be driving electric cars. Ok, so where's all that lithium going to come from to supply batteries for a country of 300 million people?

But Pickens IS doing something. He's building the world's largest wind farm. Not tomorrow, right now. He's already following through on his plan. Gore is just a tag-along. He's only taking attention away from realists.

Henry Gibson

Nuclear power has already reduced the CO2 releases of France greatly after the first oil crisis. The hundred plus nuclear reactors in the US reduce the CO2 releases of US power plants by about 15% total or greater. Wind and solar power do not amount to one percent of electrical generation, and the CO2 generated in their construction frequently takes years to recoup.

Most hydro power plants cannot claim to be either renewable or carbon free. The reservors silt up and much methane and CO2 is released from anaerobic decomposition of the organic materials that accumulate in the sediments.

One of the most interesting tests of CO2 sequestering takes place at a Geothermal power plant to control he release of CO2 by the hot water. This is a natural release of CO2 not connected with combustion, by man, of fossil fuels.

Much of the adversion to nuclear power comes from people complaining that nuclear wastes last for millions of years and are therefore unsafe for millions of years. Every spot on the earth is dangerous because of gravity that can cause falls and will be until the "safe" sun fries all life from the face of the earth in a few billion years.

Every human and every other life form must have, and has always had, long lived radioactive postassium in all cells and we are exposed to much more radiation from the very earth and all life that we come in contact with as well as nuclear radiation from the sun and the rest of space.

No man made source of radiation has increased the average radiation exposure to humans in measurable quatities. X-rays and flying in air-planes as well as living at high altitudes can dramatically increase an individual's nuclear radiation exposure.

Exposure to the sun kills thousands of people a year. The sun is clearly more dangerous than exposure to used fuel rods which has not killed even one person directly. Stay out of the sun and stay away from used nuclear fuel rods and neither is very dangerous. Gore's sale of tobacco products killed more people than nuclear fuel rods ever will. People who were exposed to Radon in uranium mines and smoked got many cancers those miners who did not smoke got very few.

Ever dollar spent on fighting nuclear power and those dollars spent in sequestering nuclear materials to the highest degree of reliability, are better spent on eliminating mosquitoes which kill millions each year. A simple forty foot deep hole anywhere on the face of the earth is sufficiently safe for 99 and 44 hundreths of the population or more, Such a hole, only as big as a football stadium would have space for all of the used fuel rods and thirty feet of dirt to cover them. The fuel rods are not spent; they still have ten to twenty times more energy left than was taken and could fuel the US for a hundred years or more.

You are not a nuclear radiation virgin and neither was the great-great-great... grandmother and her pet chimpanzee. You are and will alway be exposed to radio-activity by the food you eat, at least, and also any and all ground you walk on and by any and all people and plants you come close to, even tree trunks anywhere. The nuclear radiation from your very cells has not killed you and it is unlikely that it will. Your ancestors died mostly from bacterial diseases because of a lack of high tecnology, cheap energy and understanding of life. ..HG..

3D

I stopped listening to Vice President Gore ever since I read that was employed by the big Venture Capital firms who have invested in the companies that are providing “Green Power”. He is acting within those parameters, and that is his free right. Just like PT Barnum hawked the Bearded Woman to make a buck.

From the engineering side, there is no magic answer, power is power, heat is heat, zero anything is a dream. CO2 will happen no matter what man does, and nature will take it’s course over thousands of years, and human kind will still be on the earth.

Kit P

@ Troy
So what is Pickens plan? He out bid some others to buy a large number GE wind turbines. No more wind capacity will get built in the US than if he had stayed out of the business of making electricity.

Troy

Kit,
I wouldn't say that. It's supply and demand. GE & others will expand capacity to satisfy the demand. And the demand is there and it's increasing all the time.

If you want more info about Picken's Plan check out the site: www.pickensplan.com

There are several good interviews with Boone Pickens on youtube too.

Kit P.

@Troy

I have been to pickensplan web sites and I am not very impressed, no plan but lots of propaganda. It is hard to tell if Pickens has gone senile or just playing to the crowd. In any case, what he is doing is neither ‘big’ or ‘aggressive’ or ‘leadership’.

Before being too critical I thought that I would check out, another company that has recently decided to invest in wind.

“In May 2007, Duke purchased Tierra Energy, a leading wind developer in Austin, Texas. The combined entity will have more than 5,000 megawatts of wind energy under development in 12 states and approximately 500 megawatts of operating assets by the end of 2008.”

Pickens is just another dog fighting over the same bone. He is not doing anything to increase electricity generation with wind power. That will be difficult and require more that BS.

HarveyD

Well over 100 posts. This must be a record. Mr. Gore must be more popular than many are willing to admit or he has a good idea to cure USA from its current oil and GHG addictions.

Winterman,

Mr. Bush has indeed done more for the environment than that fraud Algore will ever concieve of doing.

Mr. Bush recreated Fusion research. He is funding Fusion once again, like Mr. Clinton tried to do, until the treehuggers sabotaged him and killed it, while delaying Fusion power by a decade or more. Their actions left our allies holding a $10 billion dollar dinner check for scrap iron.

Mr. Bush forced the 'perfection' of Nuclear LWRs so that they can't meltdown. He then got the laws reformed to build them. He put the NRC to work pre-certifying the new standard designs. The Nuclear Renaissance is the result and some 34 nuclear plants in the pipeline. Nuclear generation will grow to more one third of our electric generation by 2017, up from 21%, and power our electric cars for which his creation of the US Advanced Battery Consortium has had a major impact. LI-Ion for automobiles and PHEVs/BEVs is the result.

And yes he even funded lots of research into improving solar daydreams, and improved windmills to tilt at.

They still operate less than 25% of the time by experience, in Europe, and also cause all kinds of stability problems on the Grid due to their variability.

As for the lack of funding for research into global warming nonsense, he funded about $29 billion dollars of research that produced the likes of Mann's fraudulent Hockey stick; the mythical CO2 warming that has disappeared everywhere except in the constantly "adjusted" imagination of Dr. Hansen. He has paid for Hansen and other Algore sycophants running the ground temperature database that disagrees with the other worldwide historical measures. Mr. Bush has funded the endless research to find the 'carbon sink' that justifies the long residency for CO2, even though it has proved as elusive as the Lost Cities of Gold, the El Dorado. Even the true-belivers at IPCC are disgusted and reverting to 5.7 year rsiudency that it was, is, and will continue to be under Henry's Law; chopping the legs off the AGW cranks. He has funded the reseach that proves that elevated CO2 levels generate healthier plants that provide food and fiber to animals like us. Mr. Bush has funded the proof that tropospherical clouds are modulated by solar winds reducing the CR flux, nucleating cloud formation. He has funded the proof that we can measure the atmosphere with satellites in earth orbit and in close orbit about the sun. He has invested in the ARGO 3000 seabuoys network; He has invested in the AQUA network, too. These measurements show that the Oceans are cooler and cooling. Hypothesized Global Warming heat is missingand not hideing there, ready to sping forth once again. The US satellites that Mr. Bush funded, have proved that the equitorial Troposphere is not warming as AGW there says it should. Finally, Mr. Bush has funded NASA including the research of the lonely empirical and thoretical physicist Dr. Miskolczi who is reviolutionizing GHG theory. Mr Bush's funding for GW data,via satellites, is providing proof of Dr. Miskolczi theory.

Build all the windmills you want and all the solar cells you can. They might even help the problem by a few percent, and every bit helps.

BeGreen

America needs to stay FOCUSED, AWARE and EDUCATED.

History reminds us that every time oil prices peak and the North American market/consumers start to discuss alternative energy sources, the oil exporting countries start to trim down their prices. History also tells us that the oil exporting nations have been very successful in the past and in fact, we have lost our enthusiasm and dropped many of our alternative energy initiatives after oil prices are reduced.

WE need to stay focused this time.

1) Al Gore and his energy initiative is on course.
2) T. Boone Pickens and his wind power initiative is on course.
3) The BG Automotive Group mass production electric vehicle program is on
course along with their solar charging stations.
4) Richard Branson from the UK is on course.
5) The Gas Reduction Act of 2008 might not be the most environmentally sound
solution, but yet it shows that Congress has finally realized that we have an
energy crisis (again), and a real threat to our national security.

The continued dependence on foreign oil is a threat to our long term democratic values. We must become an energy independent nation, and with this, some sacrifices will have to be made by the American consumer.

Be aware!!
We are exporting approximately USD $700 Billion dollars per year of U.S. currency. The majority of this money is being transferred to the Trillion dollar “sovereign wealth funds”. This is USD $700 Billion not being spent on America’s educational system, health care and security.

The “sovereign wealth funds” are directly buying major interests (large blocks of stock) in U.S. companies, including most of the major banks. Also, billions of dollars of “sovereign wealth fund” money is being invested in our hedge funds, private equity firms, and the investment banking industry. A few of these firms are directly and indirectly investing large sums of money into our “gas combustion” automobile industry. Do we want our auto industry in the direct or indirect control of the firms that are supplying us oil? This is an interesting topic for an investigative reporter.

There are automotive consulting companies in Michigan (heart of our auto industry), lobbying States and our Federal Government, NOT to subsidize the Electric Vehicle industry. The latter seems to be contradictory to what the American public would like to see from our automobile industry. After the billions (excess of $20 billion) the automotive companies have lost in the past 6 months producing gas combustion vehicles, you would think they too would change course. Changing course is not adding 2-4 miles per gallon w/Hybrids. Drastic measures in our auto industry must take place and NOW!

Do not let the temporary reduction in oil prices push us off course….AGAIN.

Read, Read, Read- Stay on top of the issues. Let’s not be fooled again.

STAY FOCUSED, AWARE and EDUCATED!

aym

@ anon poster,

The nuclear reactors were being developed way before bush, so giving him credit is nuts. As well, all the bureaucratic work behind fusion, would've existed even without US participation, just like Kyoto or the various carbon trading schemes arising.

As for US funding of fusion. How's "USA suspends financial participation in ITER project for 2008"

http://www.forbes.com/markets/feeds/afx/2008/01/17/afx4544145.html

Bush has had little to do with the battery evolution.

His record speaks for itself. He promised to create clean coal tech over 8 years ago and not even a test generator created.

I recognize the rant should I say stan. It's the same. From Miskolczi, who isn't in NASA anymore, having his ego bruised from being rejected from publication from all the major peer reviewed papers to Henry's Law rant (which is included in our knowledge of carbon cycling from the solubility pump and included in AGW) to the inclusion of all things anti-AGW.

Typical rant. AGW is accepted by every major national and international scientific instituition. Go join the flat earth society stan because burying your head is what you're advocating.

geologist

peak coal is a myth, UGC technology opens up the 85% that is not surface mineable. even the little old UK has a 300 year supply of coal using UGC and it more than quadruples the US reserves from a 200 year supply to an 800 year supply. Its a heck of a lot cleaner too. no NOx SOx or Hg emmisions. And the spent seam can be used to store the CO2 produced if CCS was to be used.

http://www.cosis.net/abstracts/EGU2008/08999/EGU2008-A-08999.pdf?PHPSESSID=

http://fossil.energy.gov/international/Publications/cwg_june07_friedman.pdf

TXOilman

http://www.lincenergy.com.au/pdf/asx-68.pdf

1.6 trillion tons of coal using UGC in the USA alone, consider that using the syngas from said UGC to make diesel gives a 2.4 trillion barrel reserve. Thats Trillion with a big T as in 1000 billion. Peak Coal "busted" just like mythbusters.

http://www.billingsgazette.com/newdex.php?display=rednews/2005/08/02/build/state/25-coal-fuel.inc


"Fischer-Tropsch method, one ton of coal would produce 1.5 barrels of diesel fuel. "

Kit P

Interesting links. Thanks

Pays to live green

I just hope something is able to change within 10 years. Our country cannot continue on its reckless path. Hopefully wind and solar energy are major components of our future energy needs.

AlejandroS

hi

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