Can the United States convert to 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2050? Stanford University’s Mark Z. Jacobson and U.C. Berkeley’s Mark Delucchi certainly think so. In fact, they’ve laid out a very comprehensive plan to do just that.
The two researchers have recently published a study detailing the viability of the U.S. converting to 100 percent green energy. They’re calling for aggressive changes in both infrastructure and energy consumption on a state-by-state level to achieve this goal. The new study shows that this transition from fossil fuels to renewable resources is not only technically possible with already existing technologies, but it’s also economically feasible.
“The main barriers are social, political and getting industries to change. One way to overcome the barriers is to inform people about what is possible,” Jacobson said. “By showing that it’s technologically and economically possible, this study could reduce the barriers to a large scale transformation.”
ICYMI: Listen to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s John A. Turner talk about changing the energy infrastructure and the political barriers involved in this process.
The projection for each state was determined by examining current energy usage in four sectors: residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation. Once this data was collected, the researchers converted that energy to see how much electricity each state would have to produce to satisfy needs.
Once they developed each state’s ambitions plan, the two looked at possible ways to power the new electricity grid, focusing on wind, solar, geothermal, and hydroelectricity.
This from Stanford University:
They analyzed each state’s sun exposure, and how many south-facing, non-shaded rooftops could accommodate solar panels. They developed and consulted wind maps and determined whether local offshore wind turbines were an option. Geothermal energy was available at a reasonable cost for only 13 states. The plan calls for virtually no new hydroelectric dams, but does account for energy gains from improving the efficiency of existing dams.
“When you account for the health and climate costs – as well as the rising price of fossil fuels – wind, water and solar are half the cost of conventional systems,” Jacobson said. “A conversion of this scale would also create jobs, stabilize fuel prices, reduce pollution-related health problems and eliminate emissions from the United States. There is very little downside to a conversion, at least based on this science.”
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