Alternative and Renewable Energy


High oil prices and growing worries about climate change have heightened interest in alternative and renewable energy sources, but these frequently cost more than fossil fuels. RAND has explored the feasibility of using renewable resources such as wind power and ethanol to reduce CO2 emissions and enhance energy security, and analyzed the likely effects of such technologies on consumer energy costs.

  • Essay

    Costa Rica Leads the Way in Cutting Carbon Emissions

    Almost every country has pledged to slash carbon emissions to slow the gears of global warming. Costa Rica's plan provides a glimpse of what a carbon-neutral future will look like. It shows how nations can take action and make investments that hold up, regardless of what future comes to pass.

    Aug 30, 2021

  • Commentary

    Can China's Green Energy Acceleration Put at Risk the West's Hydrogen Plans?

    Hydrogen (H2) plays a key role in the decarbonization plans of the European Union and the United States. Both have launched aggressive hydrogen strategies to increase the generation of H2 and deployment of related technologies. But these bold ambitions may face headwinds due to the acceleration of China's energy transition.

    Apr 3, 2023

Explore Alternative and Renewable Energy

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Powering the PLA Abroad: How the Chinese Military Might Fuel Its Overseas Presence

    This article explores Chinese military thinking on the role of renewable energy for powering its overseas bases, focusing on the research of Zheng Chongwei, a Chinese military researcher.

    Feb 2, 2024

  • Construction workers erecting wires across the Jiangdu-Yixing high-speed at the 200 kV DC transmission line project site in Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province, China, December 30, 2023, photo by Costfoto/NurPhoto/Reuters


    The U.S. Must Close the Long-Distance Power Transmission Gap with China

    The gap in long-distance transmission technologies between the United States and China raises significant national security implications.

    Jan 16, 2024

  • Artisanal miners work at a cobalt mine-pit in Tulwizembe, Katanga province, Democratic Republic of the Congo, November 25, 2015, photo by Kenny Katombe/Reuters


    Critical Minerals Can Pave the Road to More Robust International Development

    In the developing world, mineral extraction and processing has historically caused not just environmental contamination but also corruption and displacement of local livelihoods. There are opportunities to improve the way companies from the Global North approach critical mineral projects there.

    Jan 12, 2024

  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg participates in the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 1, 2023, photo courtesy of NATO


    Can NATO Supercharge Military Greening?

    NATO has taken significant steps to reduce environmental impacts of military activities and has set voluntary emissions reduction targets for its member states. By leveraging its existing standardization processes to encompass a wider range of equipment, supplies, and practices, NATO can solidify its role as the preeminent military leader on climate.

    Dec 1, 2023

  • Stellar nursery called Horsehead Nebula, also known as Barnard 33, part of constellation Orion, captured by the Euclid telescope, photo by European Space Agency/Handout via Reuters


    Ideas for Humanity's Future Approach to Space

    In its first 75 years, RAND helped shape how humankind thought about and used space for the benefit of humanity. And it intends to have a similar impact on the next 75 years of space sustainability, security, and governance. Researchers identified concepts worthy of future study.

    Nov 14, 2023

  • AI-generated image of clean energy within a globe, image by Prime Lens/Adobe Stock


    A roadmap for the global energy transition

    The Scotia Group and RAND Europe convened a series of Majlis Dialogues to help understand how policies, investments and international cooperation can support the global energy transition. The key points formed a roadmap to inform the transition.

    Nov 2, 2023

  • The Dixie Fire burns near Taylorsville, California, U.S., July 29, 2021, photo by David Swanson/Reuters


    How Climate Change Affects the Federal Budget and Legislation

    As climate change drives an increase in costly natural disasters, U.S. policymakers need to consider different mitigation policies. Projecting the effects on federal spending and revenue depends on a model that captures important relationships between climate, federal policy, and the economy.

    Sep 27, 2023

  • An M10 Booker combat vehicle, U.S. Army photo


    Do Generals Dream of Electric Tanks?

    Members of the House Armed Services Committee have expressed concerns over the electrification of Army combat vehicles. Though such concerns have some merit, there is also a larger issue motivating research and development efforts—the growing demand for energy on the battlefield.

    Aug 8, 2023

  • Sacks of lithium carbonate at Albemarle Lithium production facility in Silver Peak, Nevada, October 6, 2022, photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters


    Do Car Companies Know Where Their Critical Minerals Come From?

    The initial slate of electric vehicles qualifying for a new federal tax credit was announced in April. Key to eligibility is the source of critical minerals used in their batteries. While the list of acceptable nations of origin is still being worked out, there's an important practical question the IRS should ask: Do carmakers really know where their critical minerals come from?

    Apr 28, 2023

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    From Least Cost to Least Risk: Producing Climate Change Mitigation Plans That Are Resilient to Multiple Risks

    Using electricity system decarbonization as a focus area to highlight the different types of technological solutions, different risks that may be associated with them, and the approaches situated in a decision-making under deep uncertainty paradigm.

    Apr 18, 2023

  • A wind energy turbine is seen in front of damaged crops in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona in Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico, September 21, 2022, photo by Ricardo Arduengo/Reuters


    Puerto Rico's Food Security Must Factor in Planning Energy Security

    The tragedy of disaster recovery has unlocked substantial capital for Puerto Rico to rewrite its interdependent security in energy and food. Considering food security in this context could help to ensure the population has access to both power and food.

    Feb 24, 2023

  • A soldier's hands on a battery, photo by Staff Sgt. Sarah M. McClanahan/U.S. Air Force


    Critical Material Supply Chains Should Be More Resilient

    The COVID-19 pandemic and Russian invasion of Ukraine highlight the vulnerabilities of supply chains that are dependent on foreign inputs. How can the U.S. Department of Defense increase the resilience of its supply chains for materials essential to national security?

    Dec 15, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap


    U.S. Labor Market, 988 Hotline, Firearm Homicides: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the U.S. economy’s uneven pandemic recovery, a new national mental health hotline, firearm homicides, and more.

    Jul 22, 2022

  • Smoke rises from the pipes of a heat power plant, Kiev, Ukraine, November 27, 2015, photo by Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters


    Rebuilding Ukraine for a Changing Climate

    When the war in Ukraine ends, the country will in all likelihood undergo a massive reconstruction. Ukraine could rebuild in a way that would both lower its carbon footprint and construct infrastructure resilient to the effects of climate change.

    Jul 8, 2022

  • Illustrated graph shows how Costa Rica could reach net-zero emissions by 2050 under its National Decarbonization Plan. Achieving net-zero emissions is estimated to create a net economic benefit of $40.9 billion, visualization by Gabrielle Mérite


    Costa Rica's Carbon-Neutral Future

    In her final piece for RAND Art + Data, Gabrielle Mérite brings one country's vision for a carbon-neutral future to life. Her designs are based on RAND research that analyzed the potential outcomes of Costa Rica's National Decarbonization Plan.

    Feb 23, 2022

  • Stock market trends overlaid on picture of houses with solar panels, photos by BAIVECTOR/Adobe Stock and ebobeldijk/Getty Images


    More Than Green: Leveraging Green Bonds to Invest in Greater Climate Resilience

    The significance of green bonds may depend not only on having a lot of them but also on carefully developing, investing, and tracking projects against the larger goal of climate resilience.

    Nov 24, 2021

  • Watering a topiary depicting growth, photos by robert and Naypong Studio/Adobe Stock


    The Growing Green Bond Market Could Plateau. How Can It Grow Further?

    If green bonds are a viable tool to reduce emissions and adapt infrastructure to the effects of climate change, how can governments encourage the issuance, sales, and growth in the share of green bonds in the total bond market?

    Nov 23, 2021

  • Green business growth and finance sustainable development, photo by mihacreative/Adobe Stock


    Green Bonds Can Leave Issuers in the Red

    To achieve the Biden administration's blueprint for solar energy and focus on climate change mitigation and adaptation, green bonds may be worth considering. But, like any other financing instrument, they may be best considered through a cost-benefit lens.

    Nov 22, 2021

  • Report


    Evaluation of Energy Systems Network's Moving Forward Initiative in Indiana: Initial Program Outcomes and Potential Impacts

    Moving Forward takes a novel approach to developing affordable, energy-efficient housing and transportation. The authors recommend ways to strengthen the program and increase the likelihood of achieving and verifying outcomes as the program matures.

    Sep 21, 2021