In the Year 2025

No, I’m not referring to the old Zager and Evans song.

There’s a new initiative these days called 25 x ’25, which is touting the vision for the U.S. to obtain 25% of its energy supply from renewable sources by 2025. Organized by the Energy Futures Coalition, the true powers behind 25 x ’25 are the farm/agricultural/rural communities, who are increasingly seeing renewables as a cash crop like their produce — perhaps the one remaining revenue source small farmers/ranchers need to remain economically afloat.

This is not the only ambitious vision recently put forth for how much the U.S. could rely upon renewable energy in 15+ years. A few months ago, President Bush made a speech in which he discussed his Advanced Energy Initiative, suggesting a goal for wind energy to supply 20% of the nation’s electricity requirements.

I say “suggesting” because, if you carefully read the text of the speech, you’ll note that Bush actually says that “the experts tell me that this [wind energy] alone has the potential to supply up to 20 percent of our nation’s electricity. I think that’s an interesting opportunity. I don’t know if it’s true, or not, but it’s certainly worth trying to find out, in order to make sure this country has got a bright future.”

Despite the ambiguity, I’m told that NREL is acting in developing wind energy implementation plans as if “20% of U.S. electricity from wind by 2020” is actually a Presidential goal. If we earnestly pursue such a build-out but only get to 18%, that “failure” is still pretty good.

Such is the value of stretch goals. Maybe we need more of them to successfully address our energy challenges — but only if they are made and taken seriously.

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