1. Reduce consumption and reduce waste—not just of fossil fuels but of energy overall and of raw materials, almost all of which require energy to exploit and transport. Reducing consumption is vital in making the goal of 100% renewable electricity achievable, both to reduce the amount of renewable power we need to generate and because it will greatly reduce the cost of installing it. Such reduction will need to be planned in order to make sure that new jobs and opportunities demanded by renewable energy are brought on even as jobs dependent on cheap, abundant energy are removed by depletion. Americans need to become energy smart and self-reliant again—these were once defining aspects of the American character, and need to be revived. (Ed. Note: See Energy: Use Less–Save More by Jon Clift and Amanda Cuthbert) 2. Share—sharing things we do not use all the time can dramatically reduce consumption. For instance, we can reduce the energy we use for transportation by sharing both trips and vehicles. Such savings are already being achieved by ride-sharing and car-pooling, and more recently by membership-based car-sharing services. Public transportation, especially when widespread, frequent, cheap and regularly scheduled—and thus widely used—is also a highly efficient form of sharing vehicles. It has the further great advantage being much easier to power with electricity. Sharing is already an integral part of our energy use. The electricity grid itself is a system of sharing and balancing electricity production and load, but it’s outdated and excessively wasteful. We will need to re-engineer both the physical structure of the grid to make it easier to add all kinds of distributed power sources, and we will need to make the actual wires open to the public so that local power produced by businesses and homes can be added with economic advantage to both the user and the nation. In general, if we share more, we will use less energy while building a self-sufficient and efficient society and economy. (Ed. Note: See The Citizen-Powered Energy Handbook: Community Solutions to a Global Crisis by Greg Pahl) 3. Diversify sources of electricity, both in terms of generator size and location, concentrating on whatever renewable resources are locally available, such as wind, sun, biomass, geothermal, tides, and waves. There will be no single “silver bullet” renewable energy technology that works everywhere all the time; therefore harnessing efficient, practical, and abundant local sources will be vital. One of the best options for generation in many parts of the US is solar photovoltaic panels (PV). The solar industry in the US has suffered from a very unstable tax credit environment, and currently PV panel production in the US is minuscule by comparison with that of Europe and the Far East. The negative economic climate for US PV production must be addressed urgently by government. (Ed. Note: See The New Ecological Home: A Complete Guide to Green Building Options by Daniel D. Chiras) 4. Distribute electricity production so that households, businesses, and communities produce more of their own power. This reduces transmission losses, is good for the local economy, and builds community resilience against shortfalls and price spikes of any one energy resource. Achieving this distribution will require many creative and large-scale means of financing, often involving government help. It will also require fast-track permitting, changes in legislation and the power grid to allow easy grid access, as well as changes in the structuring of many existing utilities. (Ed. Note: See The Citizen-Powered Energy Handbook: Community Solutions to a Global Crisis by Greg Pahl) 5. Store electricity better. We need to develop much better and more abundant electricity storage technology because most of the best renewable energy sources are intermittent (even if in quite predictable patterns). There are many different ways of storing electricity, but none of them is cheap or easy, and most of them are very expensive and in immediate need of much more research and development. In particular, battery technology, especially at large scale, is still very far from perfected, and America lags far behind the Far East in research, development, and production. This situation needs to change urgently. (Ed. Note: See Major Solar Power Breakthrough: Scientists Mimic Plants’ Energy Storage )Read the full article here.
It seems the Post Carbon Institute is as excited to push toward meeting Al Gore’s challenge  as we are. Julian Darley , the Institute’s Founder and author of High Noon for Natural Gas: The New Energy Crisis, posted an outline to their web site detailing the ten steps the country would need to take in order to meet the goal of producing 100% of our nation’s electricity in 10 years. Here are the first five. For the full ten, visit the article here.