Stanford scientist to unveil 50-state plan to transform US to renewable energy

Feb 15, 2014

Stanford Professor Mark Jacobson and his colleagues recently developed detailed plans to transform the energy infrastructure of New York, California and Washington states from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable resources by 2050. On Feb. 15, Jacobson will present a new roadmap to renewable energy for all 50 states at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Chicago.

The online interactive roadmap is tailored to maximize the resource potential of each state. Hovering a cursor over California, for example, reveals that the Golden State can meet virtually all of its power demands (transportation, electricity, heating, etc.) in 2050 by switching to a clean technology portfolio that is 55 percent solar, 35 percent wind (on- and offshore), 5 percent geothermal and 4 percent hydroelectric.

"The new roadmap is designed to provide each state a first step toward a renewable future," said Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford. "It provides all of the basic information, such as how many and solar panels would be needed to power each state, how much land area would be required, what would be the cost and cost savings, how many jobs would be created, how much pollution-related mortality and global-warming emissions would be avoided."

The 50-state roadmap will be launched this week on the website of The Solutions Project, a national outreach effort led by Jacobson, actor Mark Ruffalo (co-star of The Avengers), film director Josh Fox and others to raise public awareness about switching to clean energy produced entirely by wind, water and sunlight. Also on Feb. 15, Solutions Project member Leilani Munter, a professional racecar driver, will publicize the 50-state plan at a Daytona National Speedway racing event in Daytona, Fla., in which she will be participating.

"Global warming, air pollution and energy insecurity are three of the most significant problems facing the world today, said Jacobson, a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and Precourt Institute for Energy. "Unfortunately, scientific results are often glossed over. The Solutions Project was born with the vision of combining science with business, policy, and public outreach through social media and cultural leaders – often artists and entertainers who can get the information out – to study and simultaneously address these global challenges."

Explore further: When the wind blows: New wind energy research focuses on turbine arrangement, wind seasonality

More information: Jacobson will deliver his AAAS talk on Saturday, Feb. 15, at 1:30 p.m. CT, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, Columbus Hall CD, as part of a symposium entitled, "Is it possible to reduce 80% of greenhouse gas emissions from energy by 2050?"

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Eikka
3.5 / 5 (13) Feb 15, 2014
"It provides all of the basic information, such as how many wind turbines and solar panels would be needed to power each state


Does it cover the storage and conversion losses and costs as well, or is it yet another "Let's assume these systems always produce energy perfectly in sync with each other and the demand"?
Nestle
3.1 / 5 (9) Feb 15, 2014
Unfortunately most of so-called renewable energy technologies just replaced the consumption of energy sources for consumption of energy during mining of raw sources. By this article, if the contribution from wind turbines and solar energy to global energy production is to rise from the current 400 TWh to 12,000 TWh in 2035 and 25,000 TWh in 2050, as projected by the World Wide Fund for Nature, about 3,200 million tonnes of steel, 310 million tonnes of aluminium and 40 million tonnes of copper will be required to build the latest generations of wind and solar facilities. This corresponds to a 5 to 18% annual increase in the global production of these metals for the next 40 years. Can we ever manage it? Can our life environment manage it? Will you like such a world after then? Wouldn't be better to switch to cold fusion and another technologies in time?
antialias_physorg
3.4 / 5 (5) Feb 15, 2014
He's a scientist. There's a snowball's chance in hell that anyone in the US will listen (and even less that anyone who listens would understand)
jerryjbrown
2.5 / 5 (6) Feb 15, 2014
How about painting the roofs white? Oh wait, 2/3 of America is covered in snow. Climate change should be reverse much more quickly by now. Considering the difference in square footage of all the roofs to the acreage of America. http://thinkprogr...-a-year/
ab3a
3.5 / 5 (4) Feb 15, 2014
antialias_physorg, his cred as a scientist is insufficient. There are issues of engineering, standards, management, politics, regulation and many more specific problems in between.

If you think just being a scientist is enough, you are very naive.
topkill
2.7 / 5 (7) Feb 15, 2014
@Eikka, you offensive, negative douche, why don't you wait and see for once instead of assuming the worst of every person on the planet.
topkill
2.3 / 5 (7) Feb 15, 2014
All of you negative, whiney douches would rather we sat around and did nothing and just "hope" good things happen? Have any of you seen it yet? For all you know he's going to get a Nobel prize and save the planet and sweet little baby jesus himself will come back and kiss his ass.

Why don't you shut up and see what the plan looks like before you start picking it apart.
Eikka
3.3 / 5 (4) Feb 16, 2014
@Eikka, you offensive, negative douche, why don't you wait and see for once instead of assuming the worst of every person on the planet.


I /am/ waiting to see when someone comes up with the first realistic estimate instead of just handwaving.

That's why I asked.
Cocoa
4.6 / 5 (8) Feb 16, 2014
I /am/ waiting to see when someone comes up with the first realistic estimate instead of just handwaving.


Did anyone demand a calculation for how many tonnes of steel it would take to build all of those oil rigs, and all of those cars? No - we just got on and did it. If you fly over the gulf of Mexico at night - you see thousands of pinpricks of light - each one an oil rig. There can't be enough steel in the world to build all of those rigs. But we did it.
Nestle
1.3 / 5 (3) Feb 16, 2014
how many tonnes of steel it would take to build all of those oil rigs, and all of those cars? No - we just got on and did it
So you're essentially saying, the math and economical calculations are useless. After then world war comes and everyone see it as "undeniable". The people evolved so high just because they're capable of strategic decisions in advance. The AWT is even linking the intelligence to the ability to predict future in this way (i.e. to against entropic time arrow).
Achille
1 / 5 (4) Feb 16, 2014
Did anyone demand a calculation for how many tonnes of steel it would take to build all of those oil rigs, and all of those cars? No - we just got on and did it. If you fly over the gulf of Mexico at night - you see thousands of pinpricks of light - each one an oil rig. There can't be enough steel in the world to build all of those rigs. But we did it.


No because the density energy of oil is much more better than that of wind or solar or geothermal that nobody needs to ask. There is huge difference here in the number of infrastructures you need to build to achieve the same net total energy output. You may want to dream about the problems to solve themselves or vanish, it is up to you. However, let other people ask the right questions about the feasibility of this plan.
Charles_Rovira
5 / 5 (3) Feb 16, 2014
The Koch brothers are pissed off at them and will sabotage any plan they come up with.
betterexists
5 / 5 (3) Feb 16, 2014
Energy Insecurity & Air Pollution is Totally Acceptable to Everyone; Regarding Global Warming, Vested Interests constantly, persistently attempt to cloud the issue & carry ignorant masses along with them.....The Masses Always Rejoice to be on the side of the Masses. It makes them feel good but of course, pretty DUMB! They do not want to listen to the Scientists. Taking precautions is expensive. Just 1 Example alone is enough to explain it all. 1958 incident where molten million ton icy rock fell into the Alaskan Waters after becoming loose from a height of 1 mile causing 2 mile high Waves (Tsunami) that uprooted & carried away millions of trees for a distance of 7 miles along the bay killing almost all out there boating...except a couple whose boat was firmly held by a long, robust Chain! By that time, Humans have burnt coal for quite a few centuries AND First Oil Well in the World was dug around 1858 or so.
Eikka
2.5 / 5 (4) Feb 16, 2014
Did anyone demand a calculation for how many tonnes of steel it would take to build all of those oil rigs, and all of those cars? No - we just got on and did it.


No, because back when they started building them, the world had only a third of the people we have now, and they hadn't even mapped half of the planet, and the resources they had available seemed for all intents and purposes endless.

Gasoline itself was a useless byproduct that was thrown away before someone figured out it could run an engine. Nobody had the faintest idea how much they would end up needing and depending on it.

We on the other hand are risking a malthusian crisis, and some people are still ignorant about the limits of growth.
Cocoa
4 / 5 (5) Feb 16, 2014
We on the other hand are risking a malthusian crisis, and some people are still ignorant about the limits of growth.


Time will tell if w have a malthusian crisis. I think that food production is going to be our biggest challenge. I don't see any problem in finding the resources to power our world. You do know we have plenty of silicon (sand) in the world right? So - if we do face a shortage of materials like steel for turbines - the price of steel will go high - and we will figure out how to build solar panels with other materials. However - I think your concern about raw materials is just a red herring - no one worries about how much steel it will take to build cars - we just go ahead and build them. Auto makers are starting to integrate carbon fiber, and also a lot more aluminum. We are a very creative species.
betterexists
5 / 5 (2) Feb 16, 2014
Kerry calls climate change 'weapon of mass destruction' / risk from rising sea levels.
Reuters Samachar
Nestle
1 / 5 (1) Feb 16, 2014
Time will tell if w have a malthusian crisis.
We aren't paying the scientists, economists and prognostic experts just for this type of resigned stance. Without it we wouldn't need to pay for them.
. I don't see any problem in finding the resources to power our world
So you shouldn't be surprised with ease, in which the people are starting wars for them. Once again, we aren't paying the scientists for such passive and ignorant approach. Of course, the consumption of raw sources with new technologies may change, but the sociopolitical situation may change too. For example, now the Japan and China are about to enter military conflict for few silly islands because of oil near them. Such a situation would never happen, if the oil would remain cheaper. For me the green activists are occupation driven in the same way, like the fossil fuel lobby, but it will not solve our problem. The collapse of life environment is a real threat and the collapse of geopolitical situation as well.
Mimath224
5 / 5 (1) Feb 16, 2014
@Nestle as I see it in a simple way is that whatever new 'cleaner' tech becomes known the structures have to me made by old tech first. Any plan must have a point when the new tech will take over and begin producing. And I think that's the point that can be disputed in all sorts of ways. For example, the relatively small community of astronomers realise that their equipment is is far from 'green' and want to change this (Paranal 27mw daily consumption to name but one). But these scientist rely on their sponsors and so far the general anwser is 'no'. Scientists themselves could find they are in very poor position in as much that if they lobby for change many might lose funding/jobs. I hope the American scientist can do something soon so others will follow suit.
That there 'greens' and 'true greens' doens't make it any easier.
RichardBlumenthal
1 / 5 (2) Feb 18, 2014
So-called renewables all have to be renewed. Solar is not just the sunlight - it's the electrons in the panel, only guaranteed for 20 years, eventually needing replacement. Wind power is not just the wind, it's the windmill that needs constant service and eventual replacement. Calling them renewables is either a marketing hoax or a delusion. And they never, ever pay for themselves in the power they produce. Laser ignited fusion is the one. This 'plan' is a 20th century leftover.
RichardBlumenthal
2 / 5 (2) Feb 18, 2014
I /am/ waiting to see when someone comes up with the first realistic estimate instead of just handwaving.


Did anyone demand a calculation for how many tonnes of steel it would take to build all of those oil rigs, and all of those cars? No - we just got on and did it. If you fly over the gulf of Mexico at night - you see thousands of pinpricks of light - each one an oil rig. There can't be enough steel in the world to build all of those rigs. But we did it.


'We' didn't do it. A business with a carefully calculated plan that weighed the cost, risk and reward did it because it made economic sense. If it didn't, it wouldn't have been done.
peakchoicedotorg
5 / 5 (1) Feb 19, 2014

www.oilempire.us/...ity.html
Renewables for a Steady State Economy
Using solar energy for twenty years (and wind power for ten) taught me that renewable energy could only run a smaller, steady state economy. Our exponential growth economy requires ever increasing consumption of concentrated resources (fossil fuels are more energy dense than renewables). A solar energy society would require moving beyond growth-and-debt based money.
After fossil fuel we will only have solar power, but that won't replace what we use now. We need to abandon the myth of endless growth on a round, and therefore, finite planet to have a planet on which to live. Will we use the remaining fossil fuels to make lots of solar panels and relocalize food production instead of waging Peak Oil Wars?
Living on our current solar budget could not be a seamless substitute for digging up a hundred million years of sunlight.
peakchoicedotorg
5 / 5 (1) Feb 19, 2014

http://www.postca...ov09.pdf

SEARCHING FOR A MIRACLE
Net Energy Limits and the Fate of Industrial Society
by Richard Heinberg

Foreword by Jerry Mander
A Joint Project of the International Forum on Globalization and the Post Carbon Institute. [ False Solution Series #4 ]
September 2009

(best summary of how much "renewable" energy equipment could be made with remaining energy resources, plus best introduction to "net energy" / energy return on energy invested, the key way to evaluate energy density - fossil fuels are more energy dense than living on our annual solar budget)
peakchoicedotorg
2 / 5 (1) Feb 19, 2014
So-called renewables all have to be renewed. Solar is not just the sunlight - it's the electrons in the panel, only guaranteed for 20 years, eventually needing replacement. Wind power is not just the wind, it's the windmill that needs constant service and eventual replacement. Calling them renewables is either a marketing hoax or a delusion. And they never, ever pay for themselves in the power they produce. Laser ignited fusion is the one. This 'plan' is a 20th century leftover.


Fusion is a way to simulate H-bombs in a lab, not to generate electricity.

Relocalization of food is probably the most important response to declining fossil energy.

Cocoa
5 / 5 (1) Feb 19, 2014
'We' didn't do it. A business with a carefully calculated plan that weighed the cost, risk and reward did it because it made economic sense. If it didn't, it wouldn't have been done.


Sorry Richard - I don't share your view. I don't believe that Henry Ford and his colleagues calculated how much iron there was in the ground - before they built their production lines. To this day we do not know how much fossil fuel there is still to be recovered. The estimates vary greatly, and change very quickly. Fossil fuel companies are now facing a fascinating dilemma. There is plenty of fuel left in the ground to be recovered, but it is getting more expensive to recover - as the easy stuff has been mined first - so we have to go deeper - and into more remote places. Renewables are challenging the king - and all of a sudden there is all this hand wringing over the technical feasibility of scaling up renewables - just shut up and watch.