Leave it to Google. Remember when you thought anything was possible? These guys still do. Their just-released Clean Energy 2030 is a great piece of work. It lays out a bold and ambitious plan to eliminate the use of coal and oil for electricity generation in the US by 2030. It imagines adding nearly 700 gigawatts of power production from wind, solar and geothermal over the next 22 years–a massive ramp up of power generation capacity that is probably unprecedented.
Yet, as some of the comments on the piece have noted, in some ways it could go even farther than it does (by amping up nuclear and a shift to public transit, for example).
Energy is an inherently political topic and it seems to me that no plan can succeed on its merits without someone figuring out how to traverse the political path necessary to realize it. That means Google or someone needs to elaborate on who pays what when and how to compensate the losers (there are always some).
The various economic and technology assumptions in their model need to be examined and vetted. I know I will dig deeper and I’m sure many others will as well. The piece is contains numerous useful links to related background reading, providing a good starting point.
It is nice to know that all of our Internet searches are not just drawing power in data centers around the world but also funding some big thinking on how we can crack one of the most important challenges facing our world.