Moore’s law for clean energy

In What would it take to be 100% green? Less than you think., Worldchanging contributer Jeremy Faludi points out some interesting math around what it would take to get clean energy off the ground.

… currently, 6% of Europe’s electricity generation is from renewable sources. If they wanted it to be 100% by 2025, they should expand renewable energy generation by about 15% per year, every year, compared to other power sources. (This does not mean 6% now, 21% next year, 36% the year after, etc. It only means 6% now, 6.9% next year, 8% the year after, etc.) This sounds small, and in fact is less ambitious than their current plan to grow renewables from 6% to 12% by 2010.

This sounds like a good plan. I find the next statement most interesting though:

Governments and think-tanks worldwide speculate about what’s needed to become sustainable, and what can be set as realistic policy goals. Too often, these goals are stated like “reduce CO2 emissions 5.2% below 1990 levels by 2010”, or “by 2003, 10% of all cars sold in California shall be electric”. The most common outcome in situations like this is the school kid’s cram-and-burn scenario: nothing happens until the deadline looms, at which point a frantic flurry of activity erupts, usually resulting in the deadline being missed. …

So let’s take the same goals and rewrite them to be incremental deadlines: you need to be a little better by the end of this year, and then next year improve by the same amount, ad infinitum.

I like this idea. It gets around the inertia created by the feeling that “it’s all too big”. Certainly something to keep in mind when we’re communicating targets to both the public and decision-makers.