According to a study published in the journal Environmental Research: Infrastructure and Sustainability, 200 US cities will not be able to fulfill their commitments to switch to 100% clean energy by 2050. The study, conducted by researchers from Baylor University, sheds light on the challenges faced by cities in their clean energy plans.

The analysis reveals that the current infrastructure plans in place for adopting renewable energy fall short of meeting the energy demands. Despite promises and commitments made by various cities, gas will continue to be the primary energy source in the US by 2050. The study estimates that renewable energy production needs to triple to account for even 45% of total energy generation.

“This research provides valuable insights into the limitations and complexities of transitioning to clean energy at the city level,”

says Dr. Kayla Garrett, Postdoctoral Fellow at Baylor University‘s Department of Environmental Science.

“It shows that while the need for this transition is evident, there are significant barriers and conflicting sustainability goals that hinder progress.”

The Energyshed framework employed in the study offers a comprehensive perspective on energy use at the city level. It takes into account various factors such as land, infrastructure, population, earnings, and environmental impact to evaluate energy usage patterns and potential pathways for clean energy adoption.

Examining a sample of US cities committed to achieving 100% renewable energy by 2050, including Boston, Washington, D.C., Salt Lake City, Columbia, and San Diego, the research found that these cities are projected to achieve only 10% of their targets within the next three decades.

“The findings highlight the urgent need for collaborative efforts and innovative solutions to overcome existing limitations,” emphasizes Dr. Garrett. “The energyshed approach allows neighboring communities to identify shared goals and work together towards funding, land acquisition, infrastructure development, and renewable energy distribution.”

The study underscores the importance of conversations between stakeholders focusing on market-based approaches and those advocating sociopolitical strategies. By fostering cooperation and alignment between diverse parties, cities can navigate the complexities of clean energy transitions more effectively.

Addressing conflicting sustainability goals, such as infrastructure changes, energy storage, land and resource use, biodiversity, and economic development, will require concerted efforts to overcome “analysis paralysis” and facilitate decisive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

As US cities strive to meet their clean energy targets, it is crucial to acknowledge the challenges they face and seek collaborative solutions that leverage the potential of the energyshed framework. By working together, cities can overcome shortcomings in their clean energy plans and pave the way for a sustainable and renewable energy future.

Source: azocleantech