Sustainable energy sources, like wind and solar, are not as easily controlled as coal and oil. Powering the American economy off its environment requires an advanced computer system pulling in massive amounts of data, churning that data into a national model predicting both energy supply and need, and providing day-to-day stable control for the entire system.
Such a computer model must be very high fidelity in time and space so it will require the capabilities of a super computer yet it must be very reliable, particularly against the possibility of power outage at all levels and even a Corona Mass Ejection (CME) of historic proportions. This will require a distributed system able to function when broken into pieces and then able to put itself back together again. To do this will require at least some artificial intelligence.
Much of the data of for this system will have to be taken from space and must cover both the Earth and Sun, as well as their interactions. The data needed to manage the American power economy is not the same as that now taken to monitor weather and climate. New instruments will be needed particularly to measure the difficult problems of aerosols as they seed clouds and the speed of wind over land.
This system will require a new smart electrical distribution grid where every power generation and distribution node is controlled by its own computer. Each node computer will need high speed data links to connected nodes out to three steps in all directions to insure local stability. The national computer will then draw data from all nodes and issue commands to them to insure national and regional stability. High powered AC to DC to AC transmission links will enable power to be transferred from any region of the country to any other.
Starting this Fall, all-electric cars with super-cap Electrical Energy Storage Units (EESU) will enter the market. EESU have a charge/discharge capability rated at one million cycles. This will enable the transportation system to serve the a second function as the energy storage system for alternative power. When millions of these vehicles are not in motion, they will be plugged into smart chargers that will buy power at off hours and sell some of it back to help the system cover the usage peaks. The central computer will manage this market.
Hydro, nuclear, and natural gas plants will continue to provide a substantial portion of the nation's power for the foreseeable future and will be an integral part of the mix.
Distributed power generation stations will also support important social values such as saving the American family farm, removing the need for risky deep water drilling and gas shale cracking, and ending our dependence on foreign oil.
We can power the American power off the American environment with far less danger to that environment than we now experience burning hydrocarbons. This we can do; this we have already started; this we can push on to completion.