Arizona can lead on solar, renewable energy initiatives

FLAGSTAFF-The United States can achieve needed reductions in global warming pollution through efficiency and renewable energy, according to the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) and the Sierra Club. Arizona can play a big part, according to local energy and conservation leaders.

Global warming emissions, in particular carbon dioxide (CO2), must be reduced 60-80 percent by 2050 according to NASA climate scientist James Hansen to avoid the worst effects of growing climate change.

"Fully three quarters of the reductions in global warming called for by Dr. Hansen and other scientists can be realized using energy efficiency, wind and solar - all technologies we have today," said Carl Pope, Sierra Club executive director. "The rest can be made with geothermal, biofuels, biomass, and other renewables."

"There's more than enough sunshine in Maricopa County alone to power the entire country using today's technology," said Ben Marcus, head of the Arizona Solar Energy Association, the Arizona chapter of ASES. "It's up to all of us to make Arizona lead the way towards a secure, energy independent future for our country."

The Arizona Department of Commerce projects thousands of new jobs with an aggressive commitment to a solar industry. See the 2007 Arizona Solar Electric Roadmap Study at www.azcommerce.com/Energy/

The Arizona Corporation Commission recently approved a new requirement for state power companies to provide 15 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020.

"For Arizona, climate change due to global warming likely means more drought and hotter summers," said Rob Smith, Sierra Club Southwest Representative. "We can do something about that by being smarter in how we use energy, and switching to cleaner sources.  And it saves money and water over burning more coal."

"When you consider the full cost of heating the planet and polluting our air with the fossil fuels we use today, the only smart investment is efficiency and renewables," said Prof. Martin Pasqualetti, an expert on the environmental cost of energy our demand for energy.  "The naysayers, who argue that global warming is not attributable to human causes or that it is too expensive to remedy, are providing cover for policy makers too timid to take appropriate action on this important issue.  Arizona can and should lead the way with solutions, especially in solar energy and energy efficiency, and there is a great deal we can do right now."

The principal author of the ASES report was Dr. Charles Kutscher, a research scientist for the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, CO and an ASES member; the foreword to the report was written by Dr. James Hansen, top climate scientist for NASA, the space agency.  The ASES report is not a government document.  Key findings of the ASES report are:

- We can reduce carbon emissions by 1,100-1,200 million metric tons annually by 2030 with aggressive use of energy efficiency and renewable energy alone;

- 82 percent of necessary reductions in carbon emissions can come from wind, solar and increased energy efficiency.  Biomass, biofuels, and geothermal energy could comprise the rest;

- This plan would achieve the U.S. share of reductions required to stabilize atmospheric CO2 levels at 450-500 parts per million and limit additional average temperature rise to One degree Celsius above 2000 levels.

For a copy of the ASES report, go to www.ases.org/climatechange.

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