The Rand Corporation just came out with news saying severely cutting our dependence on oil, gas and coal is going to be harder than they intially reported. When Rand did the same study in 2006 and came out with more favorable results, it was because of an error in the computer model. Rand was calculating how hard it would be to cut 25% of our energy to renewable resources by 2025 for the Energy Future Coalition. They run the group 25 by '25, which is trying to make that metric a rallying cry and goal.
Rand says that the getting there will require "dramatic progress in renewable energy technology." They also hint that they would like to get rid of ethanol subsidies, though they aren't counting on it. They're huge fans of the potential for biomass. They'd really like to see the country to switch from making ethanol from corn--which is highly inefficient, though popular with farmers--to making it with agricultural and wood waste or switchgrass.
For many people the report will be a re-affirmation of the obvious: we can't just count on natural progress to reduce energy waste. That's the kind of thinking in President Bush's goal to cut greenhouse gas by 2025 -- but only after letting it go much higher for the next 10 to 15 years. Both major presidential candidates have indicated they're willing to be more serious about the project. Rand thinks the free market may produce some better alternatives now that gas is so expensive. The Rand report also thinks some kind of requirement for renewable energy isn't a bad idea to foster the market--as long as it's phased in sensibly. Right now only 9.5% of our electricity and 1.6% of our motor vehicle power comes from renewable sources. That is a long way to go to 25%.
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