Requirements for a Renewables Revolution

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This project identifies and analyzes the obstacles presently barring the rise of renewables, evaluates the role of the current policy favorite emission pricing, and offers design recommendations for a comprehensive U.S. renewable policy. Successful climate change mitigation requires a timely shift to renewable sources of energy, such as sunlight, wind or tides, to decarbonize today’s high-carbon electricity sector. But market pull alone is not strong enough. This paper discusses the most widely cited economic barriers and identifies and evaluates additional obstacles related to the electricity sector’s regulatory framework. The project explores a number of policy approaches and their relative chances success. In light of the plethora of obstacles to a timely transition to renewables, this project calls for concerted policy action by scientists, engineers, economists, lawyers, marketers, and educators to fuel the renewables revolution. (Note: This project originally won in the Big Ideas “Science, Technology, and Engineering Policy” category.)