By Frank Andorka, Senior Correspondent

What Happened: Researchers at the University of California at Irvine (UCI) report that the United States could produce 80% of its electricity needs with solar and wind power, as long as the nation commits to building the grid to accommodate them, including up to 12 hours of battery storage. Someone should tell Rick Perry and the president, because they seem to have missed a memo somewhere along the line.

SolarWakeup’s View: Honestly, this isn’t news to anyone in the solar industry, is it? Or the wind industry? After all, employees wouldn’t be flocking to an industry they didn’t believe was sustainable. That much seems obvious.

But what the scientific study does it get that news into the hands of a public that, as ThinkProgress reports, believed renewables could never produce more than 20% to 30% of the nation’s electricity.

The key, of course, is electricity storage (the study focused an awful lot on batteries, but as well all know, that’s not the only storage technology out there). The solar industry has already shown that solar is cost competitive, and battery storage prices are coming down, too. One can quibble about whether they’re coming down fast enough, but no one can legitimately say they aren’t coming down at all.

Let’s be blunt: The solar industry has shown the path forward to reaching the 80% mark laid down by UCI and is developing more sustainable ways to move electricity to the grid with bankable offtakers. Now we just need to force state and federal legislators to remove the regulatory obstacles—put in our way by the entrenched electricity-production interests—out of our way. Once that happens, the solar industry will lead the way to 80% because we’ve already shown we can.


Geophysical constraints on the reliability of solar and wind power in the United States (UC Irvine)

Solar and wind power alone could provide four fifths of U.S. power (Think Progress)

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