A team of engineers, led by Stanford professor Mark Z. Jacobson, have proven that it’s technically possible, and cost-effective, to convert all of 50 states’ power usage to green energy by 2050, according to the Stanford News Service.
The engineers published their findings in the online edition of “Energy and Environmental Sciences.” A summary of the plans for each state, illustrated by an interactive map, is available at www.thesolutionsproject.org.
Converting the country’s, and the world’s, entire infrastructure, to run on renewable energy would be a way to fight ongoing climate change, eliminate air pollution mortality, create jobs and stabilize energy prices.
Speaking on the likelihood of what stands in the way of this change, Jacobson said, “The main barriers are social, political and getting industries to change. One way to overcome the barriers is to inform people about what is possible. By showing that it's technologically and economically possible, this study could reduce the barriers to a large scale transformation."
According to Jacobson, several states are already on their way to this transition. For example, Washington State could be the first one to do so since 70 percent of its current electricity comes from existing hydroelectric sources. Iowa and South Dakota are also in good positions. They generate nearly 30 percent of their electricity from wind power. California has already adopted some of the study’s recommendations and plans to be 60 percent electrified by renewable by 2030.
Under the plan, no more than 0.5 percent of any state’s land would be covered by renewable energy infrastructure. This would be expensive at first, but would be offset by the fact that wind and sunlight are free.
Speaking to the Stanford News Service, Jacobson discussed the ways in which such an investment would pay for itself. “"When you account for the health and climate costs – as well as the rising price of fossil fuels – wind, water and solar are half the cost of conventional systems," Jacobson said.”A conversion of this scale would also create jobs, stabilize fuel prices, reduce pollution-related health problems and eliminate emissions from the United States. There is very little downside to a conversion, at least based on this science,” he said.