Green group touts Al Gore's clean energy goal

WASHINGTON Thu Jul 31, 2008 6:01pm EDT

Former presidential candidate Al Gore delivers a speech on America's future energy needs in Washington July 17, 2008. REUTERS/Jim Young

Former presidential candidate Al Gore delivers a speech on America's future energy needs in Washington July 17, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Young

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of a group founded by Al Gore told lawmakers on Thursday that the former vice president's goal of generating all U.S. electricity from clean, renewable sources within 10 years is ambitious but attainable.

Cathy Zoi, CEO of the Alliance for Climate Protection, told the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming that there were no technological or other obstacles in the way of clean power.

"Many Americans have a hard time thinking about our energy future, largely because their energy present is so challenging," she said. "Staying on our present track is an invitation to sustained higher prices."

Meeting Gore's challenge will require a three-pronged, approach involving energy efficiency, renewables and an updated national electric grid, Zoi said.

She noted that existing technologies can already reduce 20 percent of the average family's energy use.

The cost of the clean power goal would mostly be absorbed by private sources, Zoi said.

"If policies reward reducing global warming pollution, private capital will flow towards clean energy solutions."

Zoi said a smart electric grid could be the backbone of a modern power system able to "move power from remote resource-rich areas to places where power is consumed."

The system would incorporate a smart meter to allow consumers to sell electricity back to the grid through power made in their homes or stored in plug-in cars.

Greg Yurek, CEO of American Superconductor Corp, said the superconductor wires his company manufactures can carry 10 times the amount of power of traditional copper cables.

These wires have the potential to double the power capacity of wind turbines.

"Grid modernization with superconductor cables and other energy technologies will provide the capacity needed for the wide use of plug-in electric vehicles," Yurek said.

(Reporting by Jasmin Melvin; Editing by David Gregorio)

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