To save humanity from the existential threats that confront it through climate change, which President Biden recognizes, the US needs leadership. The DOE acknowledges this, “There is no greater challenge facing our nation and our planet than the climate crisis.”
Yet in the DOE’s Solar Futures Studies Report, which offers a blueprint for the zero-carbon grid, the US has not risen to the occasion. Instead of undertaking fundamental industry structure analysis, with examination of strategic, technical, and economic evaluation of options in the electricity industry, what we have is obvious, anticlimactic: “deploy solar.” Solar electricity’s contribution rises to 45% of total capacity by 2050. How? Grid-tied, massively, and with almost no other options considered. This is no policy, no strategy. Why was a study needed for this?
It is tiring to read, and irrelevant, “The U.S. electric grid is one of the world’s largest machines, comprising millions of miles of transmission and distribution lines.” But it is obsolete. Fundamental economic forces and technical advances make such size an unmanageable liability, vulnerable to sabotage and breakdowns, fires, and hurricanes. Why is the DOE arguing for a prominent role for the existing yet dying electric utilities? The US should embrace its historical strengths – innovation and entrepreneurship. This report’s recommendations undermine the US’s global competitive position, undercuts broad-based economic growth. It says, “We estimate that roughly 80%–90% of that capacity will be utility-scale solar, with the remainder coming from smaller-scale distributed solar.” In other words, a paean to the dead.
Microgrids missing: No understanding of the microgrid revolution