The World Can Be Powered With Renewable Energy—If We Want It To Be
(3BL Media/Just Means) - âRenewable energy is the fuel of the future - or so it should be. Imagine a world where solar and wind power are the norm Some people insist that itâs a pipe dream, that we are too dependent on fossil fuelâ. How about infrastructure and materials needed to build it? â âIt sounds like a gargantuan mission.â
âIn fact it is, but this does not deter âvâisionariesâ âwho believe renewable energy âcan power the whole world with compelling scientific and economic evidence.â âAmong those people are the brains behind The Solutions Project, an initiative led by renowned scientist Mark Jacobson and finance wizard Marco Krapelsâ,â âwhose aim is to educate the public and decision-makersâ âabout the feasibility of 100 percent âclean energy. The group combines science, businessâ âand culture to develop and implement science based clean-energy plans for states and countries.
Mark and Marco were in conversation with âGreen Biz's âJoel Makowerâ âduring the 2014 edition of VERGE in San Francisco (27-30 October), a forum for discussion on the cutting edge of sustainability tech and applicable solutions.
âWe want to get to 100 percent renewable energy around the world,â said Jacobson as the conversation âstartedâ. âThis is his message in a nutshell.â Jacobson is a well-known renewable energy pundit, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University with experience in air pollution and climate change. In 2009, he co-authored a report on how to power the world with renewable energy by 2030. The study received widespread media attention and was featured on the cover of Scientific American in time for the disappointing UN climate conference in Copenhagen. In 2013, his group developed individual WWS energy plans for each of the 50 Uâ.S. states.â
The Solutions Project has a detailed plan on how to get to a 100 percent renewables and all the jobs it would generate. âWhy is it that Walmart is covering its roof spaces with solar? Because it makes economic sense,â âadded âMarco Krapels, board member and Pegasus Capital Advisors partner.
The duo are against nuclear and natural gas, which many see as a solution during a transition phase. âWe are trying to eliminate burning. Consumers will realize that they are not getting a good deal with gas,â said Jacobson. âUsing noâ combustion fuels results in a reduction of 30 percent in global energy demand as electrical processes are more efficient.
âIn their view, wind and solar are the stars of a clean energy future, with 50 percent and 45.7 percent, respectively. That is followed by hydroelectric with 2.5 percent of the share, geothermal with 1.3 percent while wave and tidal would account for 0.5 percent of energy generation. Shifting to renewable energy would save US$510bn in health costs as pollution would decrease and nearly five million 40-year jobs would be created. This page on the projectâs website has more facts and figures, including an interactive map with specific information for each U.S. state.
âTo deal with the issue of variability that critics of solar and wind often highlight, Jacobson says the key is combining renewable energy types into a bundle. Wind and solar are complementary as wind peaks at night and solar during the day. Hydroelectric, for instance, can be used to fill in the gapsâ.
ââWind and solar are complementaryâ. Wind tends to peak at night and sunlight peaks during the day. Using hydroelectric power âas a fillerâ, as is already common,â allows demand to be precisely met by supply in most cases. Other renewable sources such as geothermal and tidal power can also be used to âtop up power generation.
Jacobsonâs âargumentâ is robust and makes sense. There are economic, health and ecological benefits. So why are we not doing it? Economic interests influence political decisionâ, currently mostly oriented towards fossil fuels. Itâ would take a huge collaborative effort to make the shift. Orchestrating this âtransitionâ isâ âmore complex than the technology needed âin the face ofââ the antagonistic forces at work.
But the most important thing is - â100 percent renewable energyâ is possible. âSo next time someone says that renewables cannot power the world, just point them to The Solutions Project linked to below.â They may change their minds about the issue.
Image credit: The Solutions Project