Reporting in Grist is uncovering how a city can get to 100% renewable energy. Despite a push for 100% renewable energy and the importance of renewables in combating global warming, how does a city get to 100% renewable energy use? Is it even possible?

Source: TED-Ed/YouTube

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Cities that look to use renewable energy look for a mix of wind, water, biomass, solar, and other sources to meet their needs. Burlington, Vermont announced in 2014 it had hit 100% renewable energy for the city. The city’s renewables are a mix of wind, biomass, and water.

Since 2014, and before, many similar-size and larger cities are setting renewable targets. Cities like St. Louis and Denver have pledged to increase the amount of energy that’s sourced from renewables.

Because energy is connected through a grid, it’s almost impossible to source 100% of the energy that’s fossil-fuel-free, 100% of the time. But scientists and experts are optimistic and think the commitments send a strong message about the change that’s upcoming.

“Cities are setting these goals and striving to go from a very small percentage of renewables to 100 percent on an extremely ambitious timeline,” said Lacey Shaver, city renewable energy manager at the World Resources Institute, via email to Grist. “It’s an exciting time for city energy work.”

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President Joe Biden promised to remove all emissions from the electricity grid by 2035. Jesse Jenkins, professor of engineering at Princeton University, told Grist, to get serious about renewables, “we need to spend the next decade very proactively — pushing these technologies forward and seeing which ones succeed, how quickly they mature, and how fast we can scale them up in the future.”

Read more recent news on emissions and climate change, including the G20 report on energy use and Biden’s environmental plans. Learn more about climate change affecting marine life, including acidification harming Dungeness crabs,  the mystery of dead birds across Alaska, turtles in Cape Cod Bay, lobsters off the coast of New England, and whales in the Gulf of Maine.

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