Salazar Says U.S. on Cusp of Renewable Revolution

13/12/2009 at 6:52 pm Leave a comment

U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar told reporters Thursday in Copenhagen that the United States stands on the cusp of a renewable-energy revolution and that clean-energy legislation will trigger massive new investment in the sector.

“On renewable energy the truth speaks for itself,” said Salazar. “America’s vast deserts, plains and oceans have been largely unexplored for their vast renewable-energy potential.”

“[The] possibilities are immense. The National Renewable Energy Lab estimates the wind potential off the East Coast of the U.S., in the Atlantic Ocean, to be 1,000 gigawatts — greater than our national electricity demand.” Read related story on GE wind farm.

Large-scale renewable energy projects are a hot topic in Copenhagen and concrete political initiatives that arise out of the climate summit in Denmark could further galvanize investors’ interest in the renewable-energy sector, though the industry has run into difficulty this year as the declining price of oil makes alternatives less desirable.

Salazar noted that the U.S. has set aside a thousand square miles in 24 separate areas within the U.S. which are currently being evaluated for their solar potential and that $40 million has been invested already to “facilitate the rapid, responsible move to large-scale production of renewables on public lands.”

More than 5,300 new megawatts of new energy capacity is expected to be ready for construction by the end of next year, 2010, enough to power almost 1.6 million homes and create over 48,000 jobs.

Most of this solar energy would come from the Southwest and would be equivalent to 15 coal-fired plants, each of them generating 350 megawatts.

However one of the current technological constraints associated with this potential new capacity is how to move it — so-called transmission — from where it is produced to where it is consumed.

Much of the solar energy produced in the Southwest, for example, would be destined to the cities dotted along the Eastern seaboard.

The briefing came as a number of U.S. environmental advisors, negotiators and Cabinet-level secretaries have begun to arrive in Copenhagen to prepare the ground for next week’s much-anticipated arrival of President Barack Obama.

On Wednesday Todd Stern, head of the U.S. climate delegation to Copenhagen, told reporters that while “there is no question that we have — the United States has — the largest historical emissions of greenhouse gases” it is also true that “virtually all the emissions going forward — nearly of all of it — is going to come from developing countries.”

Stern said the U.S. wouldn’t pay China to reduce emissions.

Separately, speaking in his daily press conference on Thursday, U.N. Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer told reporters that the current state of negotiations in Copenhagen “was a little like moving into a new house, you don’t’ know where all the rooms are, you’ve forgotten in which box you’ve put the electric cooker, there are no curtains up on the bedroom walls and you need some time to get comfortable.”

Earlier in the week the climate summit got off to a rocky start after a series of secret, unofficial proposals — the so-called Danish text — believed to have been drawn up by Danish, U.S. and British delegates — threatened to sideline the involvement of developing nations, a coalition of nations who are seen as crucial to a successful outcome in Copenhagen.

The body known as the G77, which is the developing nations’ voice within the U.N., reacted furiously to the leaked document.

Source: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/salazar-says-us-on-cusp-of-renewable-revolution-2009-12-10?reflink=MW_news_stmp

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