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Vox Energy Reporter Says Colorado Has Big Potential With Solar And Wind

Nov 27, 2019

This map from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows areas where wind energy could be harnessed in Colorado.
Credit via National Renewable Energy Laboratory

The news website Vox recently published an article titled “Colorado’s cleanest energy options are also its cheapest.” The author, David Roberts, spoke with Aspen Public Radio about his findings. Roberts’ full article can be read here.

Why is Colorado so ripe for the development of renewable energy?

“The main thing is just, it has a lot of sun and wind. I think only three percent of Colorado's energy comes from wind and less than one percent from solar, so there's tons of room for growth.

Politically, the circumstances are well-aligned, since the Democrats now have more or less total control over the state government, the governorship and both houses of the legislature, and Democrats are geared up to act on this.”

What is de-carbonization and why would it save the state money?

 

“De-carbonization is just finding any use of energy that emits carbon dioxide and switching it out for something else that doesn't -- basically trying to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from the economy.

You have to switch out all your coal and natural gas plants for wind and solar and battery. Then the two other pieces where you save a lot of money is you switch your transportation system. Private vehicles from gas vehicles to electric vehicles. And you switch your home and building heating systems from natural gas to electrical heat pumps.

 

Renewable energy has gotten so cheap in Colorado that the more different applications you can use it for, the more money you save. It's really an incredibly positive story for Colorado.”

 

Would embracing renewable energy mean a decrease in oil and gas jobs in the state?

"Yes, that will inevitably mean some jobs in natural gas and oil production will be phased out. But the industries into which emphasis will be shifted are more labor intensive relative to fossil fuels, so by definition, they will create more jobs per unit of energy than fossil fuels.

You can't always say that those will be the same kind of jobs or that they can employ the same people. I think we should be careful about making promises like that, but, in terms of the number of jobs, yes. There'll be more jobs and they'll be more local since renewable energy is also much more of a local affair than oil and natural gas. This will mean jobs in every community."

Would an expansion of renewable energy in Colorado bring those changes to the more mountainous areas in the Western part of the state? 

 

"The Western part actually has great wind resources. I don't think hilly or mountainous territory is incommensurate with wind. You can get lots of wind tunnels and very windy areas in those parts, so different communities in different parts of the state will see a different resource mix.

The whole virtue of the high voltage transmission system in Colorado is that you can carry renewable energy from the places where it's most intense to other parts of the state. So in terms of consumption, I think most of Colorado will be consuming the same mix in terms of production. Different communities will see different kinds of energy installed, but there's no part of Colorado where there's not at least some wind or sun."