A study conducted by a team of scientists from Stanford University, established that the U.S. can go 100% renewable if everything- homes, cars, factories, etc., runs on electricity. And before anyone comments that it is easier said than done, Mark Jacobson, lead researcher in the study, claims that it is feasible in just 35 years from now. Here are the details.
Initially, the team analyzed the energy demands of the citizens of every individual state for individual categories of energy use- residential, industrial, transportation and commercial. Then they calculated how these demands are likely to change if everything would run on electricity.
The results were quite striking. The team established that in the coming 35 years, power demands will drop by the whooping 39%, the majority of which comes from replacement of current source and use of combustion energy with electricity. Some 6% of these also comes from boost in efficiency due to developments in infrastructure.
The key to success is for each state to take maximum advantage of the most available source of renewable energy. In other words, the sunny states should focus on solar power, coastal zones should boost offshore wind energy generation, and for the rest- geothermal energy is one of the best options, according to the scientists, as well as improving the quality and efficiency of hydroelectric dams. The scientists produced an interactive map, which shows what type of energy each state should focus on.
In order for this plan to work, however, all states should be willing to make the change. The team found out that while states like Washington are already way ahead, others like Iowa and South Dekota make use of renewable energy resources very scarcely.
The final point that the authors make is the costs. There are no two ways about it, it is certain that the initial investment will be quite high. However, because wind and sunlight are free, it will not be long before it is all equalized, the change might even result in profit in a long run. In addition to this, fossil fuel prices are likely to increase in the future, while the pollution-related health problems are likely to worsen if emissions are not eliminated soon.
Therefore, going 100% renewable would cut down expenses for health services and other climate change-related complications, bringing knock-on benefits. Last but not least, building new infrastructure means that more jobs will be created, while the prices of fuel will become more stable.
Full details on the work can be found in the paper published in the journal Energy and Environmental Sciences.
Image (c) Stanford University