Stanford engineer Jacobson: U.S. can attain all renewable energy by 2050

Post revised 7/28/2014 to reference Mark Jacobson’s California study, A roadmap for repowering California for all purposes with wind, water, and sunlight, June 2014.

This study presents a roadmap for converting California’s all-purpose (electricity, transportation, heating/cooling, and industry) energy infrastructure to one derived entirely from wind, water, and sunlight (WWS) generating electricity and electrolytic hydrogen. California’s available WWS resources are first evaluated. The plan contemplates all new energy from WWS by 2020, 80 to 85% of existing energy converted by 2030, and 100% by 2050. Electrification plus modest efficiency measures may reduce California’s end-use power demand ~44% and stabilize energy prices since WWS fuel costs are zero. Several methods discussed should help generation to match demand. A complete conversion in California by 2050 is estimated to create ~220,000 more 40-year jobs than lost, eliminate ~12,500 (3800 to 23,200) state air-pollution premature mortalities/yr, avoid $103 (31 to 232) billion/yr in health costs, representing 4.9 (1.5 to 11.2)% of California’s 2012 gross domestic product, and reduce California’s 2050 global climate cost contribution by $48 billion/yr. The California air-pollution health plus global climate cost benefits from eliminating California emissions could equal the $1.1 trillion installation cost of 603 GW of new power needed for a 100% all-purpose WWS system within ~7 (4 to 14) years.

Stanford engineer, Mark Z. Jacobson, is confident in U.S. ability to attain all-renewable energy by 2050. Jacobson is professor of civil and environmental engineering and senior fellow with the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment On October 9th, Jacobson discussed his plan on the Late Show with David Letterman. Jacobson’s studies show the feasibility of converting global, national and state energy infrastructures to all-renewable sources.

“There’s no technological or economic limitation to solving these problems,” said Jacobson, who is director of Stanford’s Atmosphere/Energy Program and a senior fellow with the Precourt Institute for Energy. “It’s a social and political issue, primarily.”

Jacobson and his co-authors have published studies on how to switch to all solar, wind and water energy sources for the world, the United States, New York state and California. They have plans to do studies for all 50 U.S. states.

The plans show the way to a sustainable, inexpensive and reliable energy supply that could create local jobs and save billions of dollars in pollution-related health costs. They outline paths to fulfilling all transportation, electric power, industry, and heating and cooling energy needs with renewable energy by 2050.

To do this, they calculate the number of new devices and jobs created, land and ocean areas required, and policies needed for infrastructure changes. Jacobson expressed confidence in America’s ability to rise to the occasion. “In World War II, the U.S. produced 330,000 aircraft within five years just because it was necessary.”

Mark Jacobson: Clean Energy Solutions

Jacobson Plants to power California

The following map shows spacing and footprint areas required to repower California for all purposes in 2030.

The dots do not indicate the actual location of energy farms. For wind, the small red dot in the middle is footprint on the ground (not to scale) and the green or blue is space between turbines. For others, footprint and spacing are the same. For rooftop PV, the dot represents the rooftop area needed. Source: Evaluating the Technical and Economic Feasibility of Repowering California for all Purposes with Wind, Water, and Sunlight, Mark Z. Jacobson, Ph.D, et al. May 22, 2013

Jacobson Area To Power All of California

. April 16, 2013 Mark Jacobson presents his findings on the technical feasibility of a 100% renewable energy world by 2050.  Pathways to 100% Renewable Energy Conference at Fort Mason in San Francisco.  

More information and the Solutions Project

. TED Debate: Does the world need nuclear energy? Jacobson vs. Brand

About Donna Gilmore

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