Is Colorado all set for 100% Transformation to Green Energy?

cedar creek wind farm

Colorado has always set itself apart in its efforts to harbor renewable energy. The initiatives are paying off well as the state produced 25% of its total electricity in June 2017 from renewable sources.

Even in 2016, Colorado was producing around 18% of renewable energy and the recent spike has been attributed to strong winds.

New Environment Friendly Laws in Colorado

Colorado has mandated that 30% of electricity generated by investor-owned facilities should be sourced from renewable resources by the year 2020.

Recently, two Democratic candidates running for governor made a pledge on their websites for a complete transformation to green energy.

Former state Sen. Michael Johnston and Congressman Jared Polis plans to turn Colorado the first state of US to generate 100% electricity from renewable sources by 2040 which will also reduce the utility bills.

Though the pledge is made in good intentions, the practicality of the idea is debatable. Going by the current scenario of renewable energy industry, it does not seem that the pledge is going to materialize.

Both the candidates have made the pledge depending on certain conditions. First, they have depended on the falling prices of wind and solar energy technology.

While prices are indeed going down, they are still not in a stage where full scale green energy transformation is possible.

According to MIT Technology Review, to convert the last 20% using current technology would require huge investments which could make the process prohibitory.

Currently there are no affordable options for grid-scale storage that will be able to supply power for large areas for extended periods when wind or solar power is not available.

Apart from the lower costs of energy, both the Democratic candidates are also depending on advance of technology to come up with a more cost effective solution for storage that can make the pledge a reality.

The issues around distribution and paying for the new investments are also important where large scale development is required.

Promises based on tricky info

The pledges have used information from some sources whose credibility is also under question. One study under the expertise of Stanford scientist Mark Jacobson is used by Jared Polis for his white paper on green energy.

Jacobson has been under fire several times for his assumptions in various studies including one in 2015 which is vastly cited for various renewable energy projects.

He had published a report where he outlined how New York can turn to green energy completely by 2030.

But Bloomberg News disclosed that to achieve the target $382 billion investment would be needed. Also the conclusions made by Jacobson could lead to massively unrealistic expectations and improper allocation of resources.

Polis has listed concrete steps to achieve his goal but he is not pushing for legislation yet.

We will have to wait and see if the plans play out while keeping an eye on the technological developments.

There can be some hope as Tesla CEO Elon Musk plans to set up a 100 megawatt storage system in South Australia for wind energy. The success of the project can have a massive impact on the efforts of Colorado.