Renewable energy goal termed viable

Renewable resources can supply 25% of the energy used in the U.S. for electricity and motor vehicle fuel by 2025 at little or no additional cost, says a study recently released by the RAND Corp., Arlington, Va.

This depends upon fossil fuel prices remaining high, as is widely forecast, and the cost of producing renewable energy continuing to fall as it has historically done , notes “Impacts on U.S. Energy Expenditures of Increasing Renewable Energy Use.” Overall, the study evaluated 1,500 scenarios of energy prices and technology costs.

Done for the Energy Future Coalition, Washington, D.C., a nonpartisan alliance focused on U.S. energy policy, the study looked at economic and other issues involved in raising renewable energy sources’ role in U.S. energy from their 6.5% level today (which includes hydroelectricity). It considered renewable energy sources like wind, sunlight and agricultural wastes for electricity generation and biomass such as food stalks, wood and grasses for producing ethanol for fuel use.

If production costs for renewable sources decline by at least 20% between now and 2025, which the report terms consistent with recent experience, and oil prices don’t fall significantly below the range now projected by the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, meeting the 25% goal wouldn’t increase total national energy spending.

Attaining the goal also would lead to significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions — 1 billion tons of CO2 in 2025 or 15% of projected U.S. emissions then, the study found. In addition, the renewable resources would displace 2.5 million bbl/d of oil consumption.

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