Everyone is talking about Gore’s proposal to decarbonize electricity over the course of 10 years.

Without considering transmission and storage losses, Gore’s estimate of $1.5 to 3 trillion would require capital costs of under 37 to 74 cents per annual kWh. Taking those losses into consideration, cost would have to be more in the 28 to 56 cents per kWh range. (Note again these are not cost per watt of capacity. These are costs per annual kWh. They are levelized costs translated into capital numbers.) Jon Rynn and I have a worksheet in process on costs to 95 percent decarbonize economy, rather than 100 percent decarbonizing the grid. But it does include 99 percent decarbonizing the Grid, including a 30 percent redundancy to handle annual variations. The bottom price with the most aggressive improvements we looked at came to 66 cents per annual kWh. That comes out to $3.54 trillion, about $540 billion more than Gore budgets. But because biomass has proven so devastating ecologically, and so disastrous to the poor we assume very little use of biomass. Also we phase out nuclear as well as fossil fuels, something I’m pretty sure Gore does not. More nuclear and biomass not only reduce the amount electricity that needs to be generated, but it also reduces the need for storage losses. So Gore’s plan does pencil out at the high end with 100 percent fossil-fuel free electricity at under $3 trillion.

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If you follow our plan you would probably see the grid more like 90 percent decarbonized in first 10 years. But you would also see 85 percent of truck freight shifted to mostly electrified trains, construction of light rail, and massive reductions of emissions in residences, commercial buildings, and industrial use. So we reduce emissions by more than Gore’s proposal, and reduce oil use significantly too, something Gore’s plan would not do. So not only is Gore’s plan feasible over a 10 year period, much greater reductions are feasible than Gore calls for over a 10 year period. Gore remains, as he as always has been, a mainstream centrist. That so much of the environmental community and netroots chooses to back away from it as “almost feasible” or “a moonshot,” that is, as too radical, says something about their timidity.

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