Ask the Experts: Obama Energy Goals Realistic?

January, 2011

read the whole debate

During his State of the Union speech last evening, President Obama articulated two national goals that jumped out at me: 80% of electricity from "clean" energy by 2035 and one million electric vehicles "on the road" by 2015 (just five years from now). 

An optimistic view was offered by Dan Kammen, on leave from UC Berkeley as green energy "Czar" at the World Bank:

"This goal, which sounded exceedingly optimistic only a few years ago, is now one that we can absolutely shoot for. In an electricity modeling effort that I have been doing, a modest price on carbon and smart growth policies consistently gets to 60% decarbonized (relative to the 1990 baseline, not the current level). This would put the country well on the way to the 80% 2035 target. A steady stream of innovation and progressive policy choices is needed, but it is entirely in the range of goals that could be pursued as we think about scale-ups of wind, solar, geothermal, and ocean energy, and then potentially the two most controversial ones of carbon capture and nuclear power (pending regional resource, political, and risk appetites)."