In last night’s State of the Union Address, President Obama made clean energy a top priority in his plan to America more competitive. Speaking before both Houses of Congress, the president sought to make clean energy a major point of innovation for the coming years:
“We'll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.”
Later, Obama reiterated the importance of green technology and set an ambitious goal for America’s future energy supply:
“Now, clean energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they're selling. So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: By 2035, 80 percent of America's electricity will come from clean energy sources.”
Keeping in mind America’s current reliance on coal, Obama’s timeline for clean energy adoption seems very ambitious. However, some members of political and scientific circles think that it is entirely possible. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said earlier today that between 30% and 40% of US energy already comes from carbon neutral sources:
"Roughly speaking, right now, we are about 40 percent clean energy sources in the way that you can define it. If you define it in a very strict way of no carbon emissions that includes sun, wind, hydropower and nuclear, we're over 30 percent”
So by Secretary Chu’s account, the country is already halfway to the president’s goal of 80% clean energy by 2035. Some scientists also think that President Obama's goals are realistic. In a paper currently in press, Mark Jacobson and Mark Delucchi from Stanford and UC Davis think that all new energy plants constructed in the US could by clean by 2030. Furthermore, the scientists argue that clean generators could replace older coal fired plants and produce 100% of this country’s energy by 2050. Regardless of whether Obama’s future energy’s goals are met, his move to invest in green technology will hopefully bring jobs and money to North Alabama and its clean tech startups.