California Energy Challenges Lay Ahead

University of California Berkeley scientists say California has an interesting challenge ahead if the state wants to reach the goal of reducing greenhouse gases by 80% in 2050. The reduction goal is based on emission levels in 1990, and predictions are that California’s energy needs will double by the projected 2050 benchmark.

The first presentation at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science was about curbing energy demand. As population increases, a key way to reduce demand, according James McMahon, is to increase the energy efficiency of modern devices. Efficiency and demand were also a topic of the second presentation by Jeffery Grennblatt, who said low-carbon electricity fuels were paramount to reducing emissions.

Image via California Council on Science and Technology

Heather Youngs’ presentation centered around the uncertainly of biofuels. According to her analysis, the amount of water and nutrients required to support the feed-crops future biofuels will need is largely unknown. Land is a huge factor and cost associated with biofuel production, and Youngs noted that current land unused for commercial product can have enormous ecological benefits.

One of the most shocking predictions came during Jeffery Greenblatt’s report, when he claimed that even a 60% reduction in emissions would only be possible if California could increase building efficiency by 40%, gather a 70% shift to electrical heating, and somehow manage a 50% reduction in truck and aviation fuels. Such grave numbers suggest California’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% may be facing greater challenges then realized.

Aaron Colter is a freelance writer and marketing consultant in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of Purdue University, he has worked for the NCAA, Dark Horse Comics, Willamette Week, AOL, The Huffington Post, Top Shelf Productions, DigitalTrends, theMIX agency, SuicideGirls, EarthTechling, d'Errico Studios and others. He is also the co-founder of BananaStandMedia.com, a free record label, recording studio, and distribution service for independent musicians.