The country’s energy mix is under scrutiny. A report commissioned by Energy Secretary Rick Perry acknowledges that low natural gas prices—not renewables—are behind the recent closure of coal energy plants, and that the grid has managed to withstand the increasing presence of renewable energy. According to an unrelated study published this week in the journal Joule, the world is poised to give up fossil fuels altogether.
The research lays out renewable energy roadmaps—the mix of resources a given country would need to transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy—for 139 countries collectively responsible for more than 99 percent of the global carbon emissions. According to the resulting analysis, the planet is pretty much ready to go 100 percent renewable by 2050.
Fossil fuels like coal, natural gas, and oil are not renewable resources. It took an extremely long time for the Earth to produce them, and they're going to run out. And now that we know them to be significant contributors to human-caused climate change, trying to replace them is basically a no-brainer. Still, many regard renewable energy as the flighty, less dependable sibling of our go-to fossils. But according to the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energy sources accounted for roughly 15 percent of total electricity generation and 10 percent of total U.S. energy consumption in 2016. Some of that investment in renewable energy is being led by places that we tend to associate with petroleum, like Texas, where wind energy provided more than 12 percent of that state’s electricity in 2016.