Tallahassee -- Both Florida and the nation have the power to build an energy system built largely or entirely around clean renewable resources, according to a new report released on Thursday by Environment Florida Research & Policy Center. The study, We Have the Power: Reaching America's potential for clean, renewable energy, comes as recent preemption bills prevent Florida municipalities from taking full advantage of renewable energy sources.
The report found that all 50 states, including Florida, have sufficient solar or wind potential to meet current electricity needs and that Florida has sufficient solar potential to meet its 2020 electricity needs 22 times over. Florida is also among the 49 that have enough to do so under a 2050 scenario in which such energy uses as transportation and buildings run on electricity.
“A Florida with clean air, bright skies and a sustainable future isn’t some pie-in-the-sky idea,” said Ryann Lynn, an advocate at Environment Florida Research and Policy Center. “This report offers a reminder that we actually have everything we need -- an abundance of solar energy and all the tools we need to harness those renewable resources.”
The authors highlight the broad agreement among researchers that an energy system powered by renewable sources is within reach. This analysis adds to that body of research by focusing on four key strategies to build an energy system powered by renewable energy: building out renewable energy; modernizing the grid; reducing and managing energy use; and replacing direct uses of fossil fuels with electricity to take advantage of clean technologies. The paper points to encouraging trends in technology, prices and adoption that suggest progress in each of the four areas can be further accelerated in the years to come.
“How quickly Florida can make the shift to renewable energy will be decided by how and when we lean into these key action areas,” said Lynn. “The good news is that we have seen cities leading the way through local 100 percent commitments, so we should feel confident in our ability to build on that progress and scale up Florida’s efforts in each area -- from rapidly deploying more clean energy and a modern grid to support it, to cutting energy use and converting direct fossil fuel uses to electric alternatives.”
Recommendations for policymakers at the local, state and federal levels include setting ambitious goals for the transition to clean renewable energy, as well as providing the support needed to ensure clean energy can actually deliver on those goals.
“We know what we need to do to ensure a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable future,” said Lynn. “But it won’t happen by itself -- our leaders need to do everything in their power to get us there, including setting a statewide renewable energy standard.”
As the recent preemption bills made their way through committee stops, senators and representatives alike talked about the need for a unified approach to transitioning to more clean, renewable energy. Meanwhile, the only bill that attempted to set benchmark goals for renewable energy — HB283 by Rep. Anna Eskamani — was not given a single hearing.