We’ve all had the experience of reading a news article, blog or social media post and thinking: “But that’s wrong!” or “This is misinterpreting and misusing the research!” Acadia Center would like to set the record straight on some of the common misconceptions about clean energy and energy efficiency.
Myth: 100% clean energy is a pipedream, and we will always need oil, natural gas, and other fossil fuels.
Reality: It’s not a question of “if” the world can run on 100% clean energy, but “when.” Renewable electricity is expected to grow globally by 1,200 gigawatts in the next five years, the equivalent of the total electricity capacity of the U.S. By 2050, many countries will achieve 100% renewable energy, and many countries can meet their energy needs with 100% clean energy. It is feasible around the world AND here in the Northeast.
Myth: Renewable energy is too expensive.
Reality: Renewable energy resources are increasingly cost-competitive compared to fossil fuels and getting more so every day; in fact, solar and wind energy are cheaper than gas power plants in many situations. In addition, it is cheaper to build new renewables – without subsidies – than it is to keep existing coal plants running. The costs of renewable energy keep decreasing, while the cost of aging fossil fuel resources keep increasing, and that’s all before you even factor in the social cost of carbon.
Myth: Energy efficiency is a limited resource because we’ve already made most efficiency gains.
Reality: Energy efficiency is a vast resource that can include everything from huge industrial plants to the elevators in your office building to the toaster on your kitchen counter. We have massive untapped energy efficiency gains yet to come, as well as energy efficiency resources that can be turned on and off, or up and down, to satisfy demand and ensure reliability during extreme events like heat waves.
Myth: Clean energy and energy efficiency only help the wealthy.
Reality: Everyone benefits when we deploy clean energy resources, because the cost of the energy is reduced. Many low- and moderate-income households live in homes that are much less efficient than average, so targeting clean energy and efficiency work in those places make a huge difference in families’ household budgets. Clean energy helps to eliminate local air pollution, which disproportionately harms low-income communities and communities of color.
Myth: Heat pumps are not cost-effective.
Reality: Whole-home electrification that includes heat pump installations can save energy and money, especially when paired with common-sense weatherization improvements such as better insulation. Further, electricity rates are somewhat sheltered from the wild fluctuations seen in natural gas prices. This winter residents could suffer the most expensive gas prices in years, but as more renewables are added to our grid, electricity prices can remain stable even when gas prices climb. Best of all, heat pumps help avoid the increasing cost and health impacts associated with greenhouse gas emissions, helping to create the clean energy future all deserve.
Unfortunately, misconceptions of this kind continue in our work, so we’ll continue to counter fiction with facts. Watch for more “Myth Busters” coming soon!