Clean energy in the US, Canada and Mexico is getting a big boost. President Obama plans to announce groundbreaking clean energy policy this week at The Ottawa Summit. The announcement introduces a commitment to move North America’s electricity to 50% clean power sources by 2050.
In context, “clean power” means that, energy will be produced by a variety of sources. Wind and solar will play a large part in future growth. The agreement also allows hydropower, nuclear plants, carbon capture and storage devices and energy efficiency to be included.
The joint, tri-lateral, agreement is designed to be a continental goal rather than to be an individual mandate. However, the largest consumer -- the US, also has the most amount of work to do. The US generates 30% of its energy from clean sources leaving a lot more room for improvements. The US a leader in rooftop solar panels on homes and businesses will likely do more. Additionally grid scale projects will continue to advance. Canada has already greatly surpassed the benchmark. Currently Canada gets about 59% of its power from electricity generated by hydropower, with another 16% coming from nuclear plants.
Continental alignment for more clean energy
This agreement comes after years of disputes, stalls and political posturing around the Keystone XL pipeline. A contentious political topic and pipeline that would have delivered, expensive and polluting tar sands across the US heartland. The agreement is a testament to the three nations commitment to expanding clean energy and limit carbon pollution from power plants that crosses our borders
The US has the most work to do to contribute to the agreement in an equitable way. Only 13% of US energy comes from non-nuclear clean sources. Additionally, US companies are shutting down nuclear power plants because regulators and policymakers refuse to subsidize their revenue shortfalls and high cost of operation.
While more than half of the states in the US are studying or changing net metering, the policy which provides fair, full retail credit for home solar panels and commercial solar panels installed on rooftops, a national agreement to do more to stabilize policy in state proceedings. States like Florida, Texas, Georgia and South Carolina that have been slow or adversarial to rooftop solar for homes and businesses may begin to finally work on policies that provide energy producers and consumers clear signals that rooftop solar is beneficial to all.
While a goal of half of the US energy being produced by clean energy sources is “aggressive”, most experts believe that the goal is achievable and essential to reduce and eventually eliminate climate changing pollution while still being able to deliver energy to the world's population.