100% Renewable is Doable - cover

100% Renewable is Doable

How we can repower Massachusetts with clean, renewable energy
Released by: Environment Massachusetts

Executive Summary

Our reliance on fossil fuels like oil and gas is polluting our air and water, harming our health, and changing our climate in dangerous ways.

We can envision a future where 100% of the energy we use for electricity, heating, and transportation comes from clean and renewable sources, like solar and wind.

This report describes many of the resources and technologies that will make the transition to 100% renewable energy possible.

Massachusetts can transition to 100% renewable energy economy-wide by pursuing these three strategies:

1. Reducing our use of energy

Energy efficiency and conservation: We can significantly reduce the amount of energy we use by making our buildings and appliances more efficient, transitioning to less energy-intensive manufacturing processes, increasing the efficiency of our vehicles, and shifting trips from single-occupancy cars to transit, walking, and biking.

2. Increasing renewable electricity generation from sources like the sun and the wind

Solar energy: The amount of solar energy capacity in Massachusetts has increased nearly 170-fold since 2009.

Offshore wind energy: Massachusetts has a greater potential for offshore wind energy than any other state in the country.

Energy storage and demand management: We can ensure a reliable supply of electricity with a 100% renewable electric grid by using battery storage as well as other tools for matching generation and demand.

3. Repowering transportation and heating with clean electricity

Electric vehicles: There are more than 40 electric vehicle (EV) models on the market today, and more than 1.4 million EVs have been sold in the United States since 2011.

All-electric buildings: Using heat pumps and other clean technologies instead of fossil fuel heating can be cost-effective in new construction and retrofits of existing buildings.

Studies affirm the feasibility of 100% renewable energy

Since 2004, at least 180 studies have examined the design of 100% renewable energy systems for electricity and other sectors.

Studies of 100% renewable electricity scenarios, including hourly simulations of energy demand and production from renewable resources, have been completed for California, the PJM transmission region (serving parts of the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and South), and the United States as a whole, as well as many other countries. As two experts concluded after examining the relevant research, “the principal barriers to [100% renewable electricity] are neither technological nor economic, but instead are primarily political, institutional and cultural.”

One study found that powering Massachusetts with 100% renewable energy for electricity, heating and cooling, transportation, and industry would reduce health costs by $8.21 billion per year, while saving people an average of $26 on their energy bills.

A recent study from the Center for Environmental Policy at the University of California, Berkeley found that the United States can achieve 90% carbon-free electricity by 2035 at no additional cost to consumers.

States and cities are committing to 100% clean energy

So far, 13 states and territories have passed laws or issued executive orders to establish 100% renewable or 100% carbon-free electricity targets.

In January 2020, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo issued an executive order committing her state to achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2030. In April, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation establishing a commitment to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050.

179 U.S. cities and counties have committed to 100% renewable electricity, with 52 of those jurisdictions already obtaining 100% of their electricity from renewable sources.

Some federal, state, and local officials are also taking a close look at how to transition heating and transportation to 100% renewable energy. Hawaii’s county governments have jointly committed to transition all public and private vehicles to 100% renewable energy sources by 2045. The U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on the Climate Crisis recently released a report that, among other recommendations, called for federal policies to ensure that all light-duty vehicles sold by 2035 are EVs or other zero-emission vehicles.

The 100% Renewable Energy Act

The 100% Renewable Energy Act (H.2836), filed by Representative Marjorie Decker and Representative Sean Garballey, will transition Massachusetts to 100% renewable electricity by 2035 and 100% renewable energy for heating and transportation by 2045.

A majority of members of both legislative chambers have cosponsored this bill or similar legislation filed in the Senate by Senator Jamie Eldridge (S.1958).

The Decker/Garballey 100% Renewable Energy Act would build on the example of the 100% renewable electric sector commitments adopted by other states, territories, cities, and counties, while going further by transitioning heating and transportation to 100% renewable sources of energy as well.