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US Can Run Entirely on Renewables by 2050, Scientists Say

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2050-united-states-renewable-energy-plan-1If all states make full use of the best available renewable sources, the US can run entirely on renewable energy by 2050.

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

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Since solar “works” 15% of the time and wind “works” 20% of the time, we need either energy storage technology we don’t have or ambient temperature superconductors and we don’t have them either. Wind and solar are so intermittent that electric companies are forced to build new generator capacity that can load-follow very fast, and that means natural gas fired gas turbines. The gas turbines have to be kept spinning at full speed all the time to ramp up quickly enough. The result is that wind and solar not only double your electric bill, wind and solar also cause MORE CO2 to be produced.

    We do not have battery or energy storage technology that could smooth out wind and solar at a price that would be possible to do. The energy storage would “cost” in the neighborhood of a QUADRILLION dollars for the US. That is an imaginary price because we could not get the materials to do it if we had that much money.

    The only real way to reduce CO2 production from electricity generation is to replace all fossil fueled sources with the newest available generation of nuclear unless you live near Niagara Falls. Nuclear can load-follow fast enough as long as wind and solar power are not connected to the grid.

    MYTHS: The myths being perpetrated by wind turbine marketers are that:

    Wind and solar energy are free and will lower your electric bill

    and

    Wind and solar energy are CO2 free and will reduce the total CO2 produced by electricity generation.

    But

    Californians are paying twice as much for electricity as I am and Germans are paying 4 times as much as I am. The reason is renewables mandates.

    And

    Californians and Germans are making more CO2 per kilowatt hour than Illinoisans. It turns out that even without burning natural gas or coal to make up for the intermittency of wind and solar, wind turbines and large scale solar collectors require more concrete and steel per kilowatt hour than nuclear power does.

    FALLACIES: The fallacies in the myth are failure to do the math and failure to do all of the engineering required. The myth is easy to propagate among most people because there is quite a lot of math to do and there is a lot of engineering to learn. University electrical engineering departments offer electrical engineering degrees with specialization in power transmission [electric grids]. That is only part of the engineering that needs to be done to figure the whole thing out.

    References are too extensive to list here. The fact that nuclear is safer than wind has to go in a separate paper.

  2. Very Good, but gasoline and the AC grid were not mentioned. What does it mean that your appliances are plugged into an AC 110v outlet, while the appliance only uses 9-16vdc? Both the AC grid and gasoline should stick-around for a long time, but in entirely different capcaities

    Since we now produce light WITHOUT HEAT, and. Heat IS energy. We’ve known how to transfer/multiply light without heat and loss of lums since the 1960’s. But electricity and gasoline was so cheap, why bother. Well, now is the time.

    WHAT WOULD NIKOLA TESLA DO? Remember, he had none of the technology from 1947.

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