Rumors are circulating about another big announcement coming out of Miami later this week. If my sources are right, it won’t be good news. Therefore, I’d like to spend today talking about something positive. Mostly positive, anyway.
The Solutions Project is a visionary effort to accelerate the transformation of U.S. energy infrastructure to 100% clean and renewable energy. Back in the early teens, they brought together a team of scientists, business people, and activists in order to develop detailed plans for each state to make the transition. It included a suggested balance of clean energy types, several options for how to go about making it happen, and so on.
It was brilliant, really. That was exactly what so many people needed at the time. One of the main excuses that all of the politicians and fossil fuel barons were using was the whole “it’s not ready” argument. “Oh, solar is okay in theory, but it’s not ready yet. Maybe in ten years.” And then ten years later, they would say the same thing. So the politicians would let fossil fuels get away with all types of murder, while at the same time they would fight tooth and nail to keep solar and wind from getting more established.
The Solutions Project united people from different disciplines and different ideological perspectives behind a clear, simple, attainable goal. “Here’s the technology; here’s the economics; here’s the policy. Let’s do this.”
In a way, they were successful in their goal. They definitely accelerated the change. Business people took it as a guide for how they should develop their businesses. Activists used it as a resource every time some fool opened their mouth and said it wasn’t possible. When a growing number of Greens and Climaters and clean Republicrats got elected, they used the policy guidelines to help encourage the change. Solutions Project gave all of these people hope and did a lot of the legwork so that each local group or campaign wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel every time they wanted to advocate for clean energy. It was an exciting time, and really I think it changed the political landscape almost as much as it changed the energy landscape. Which is a lot.
Sadly, as you may have noticed, they didn’t reach 100% by 2030. There are a few states that have reached a 99% rating, which basically means that all power generated within the state is clean and all vehicles directly owned by the government are clean. But some states aren’t even at 50%, and even the 99% states still technically use fossil fuels in some ways — grid connection to dirtier states, or a bunch of smelly gas guzzling cars and trucks, things like that.
Even so, it was a valiant effort. It changed the way that we think about energy in this country. It also change the way that a lot of states get their energy.
And the work continues. On January 1, they announced their new goal of 100% clean energy nationwide by 2040. Then on the weekend of the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, they had a big event at the MREA Energy Fair up in Wisconsin to announce the release of their new and improved plan.
It’s not perfect, but it’s something. I’ll admit that I was a little depressed in January when we didn’t hit 100%. But other than that, it’s been very inspiring, and it continues to inspire change for the better. In the midst of all these problems, we need to remember our inspirations. Otherwise, we’ll get paralyzed by fear and grief and do nothing. So let’s focus on the solutions that make the most sense and do what we can to make them a reality.