Just as the prospects for solar energy are looking up, could the new Congress wind up promoting a new vision of “renewable” energy that includes nuclear power and even coal? Read on . . .
Solar power costs are dropping, returns on investment for commercial rooftop solar systems are increasing, and the overall picture for the technology is improving, according to Bloomberg News, quoting a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
According to the report, solar power could generate more than 4 percent of electrical demand in the United States by 2020. Today, it generates just 1,400 megawatts in the United States. With investments of $100 billion over the next ten years, that total could be boosted to 44,000 megawatts, according to the report.
Meanwhile, Politico is reporting that Republicans are gearing up to push for an “all of the above” energy policy in the new Congress. It would emphasize increased domestic production of oil, gas and coal, and tax breaks and other incentives for nuclear power, so-called “clean coal,” and renewable energy.
One thing is certain: Republican leaders probably won’t have to worry about being called overly ambitious.
“I wish I had some real great novel stuff, but this is all Riggins up the middle,” said a former House Republican energy staffer, referring to former Washington Redskins running back John Riggins.
And there could be one other thing: In the name of “bipartisanship,” they might agree to a “Renewable Energy Standard” — a policy requiring that a specific percentage of the nation’s electrical demand be met by renewable energy — but possibly with a twist:
Scott Segal, an industry lobbyist, said the next Congress will have several ideas to work with that were held over from Obama’s first two years in office, including a renewable electricity standard that expands the definition of what energy types count toward the thresholds, namely, in nuclear power and clean coal.
Uranium and coal as renewable energy resources? DOH!
Conservatives have supported a rebranding of RES as a so-called “Clean Energy Standard,” or “CES,” that would include nuclear, along with coal technologies that reduce pollution and carbon emissions. So perhaps the Politico story got it wrong, or maybe Segal actually meant to say that nuclear and “clean coal” would be part of a new Clean Energy Standard, not a Renewable Energy Standard. If so, at least it’s debatable.
But who knows? If Republicans retake one or both houses of Congress, might they instead push an Orwellian vision that would include non-renewable sources of energy in a Renewable Energy Standard?
I’d like to think not. But at this point in what is the nuttiest political season I can remember (and today I feel like 125 years old . . .), I think I just might be able to believe it.