Michael Mathres / EcoWatch & Mark Fischetti / Scientific American & Renewable News – 2015-11-26 01:30:25
100% Renewable-Powered World ‘Technically
Feasible and Economically Viable’ by 2030
Michael Mathres / EcoWatch
(November 24, 2015) — Many doubt the scientific, technical and economic feasibility of achieving 100 percent renewable energy in a single country or even globally. But this vision has never been more realistic than now, according to the latest International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) report and a paper written by Stanford University.
The first report by IRENA, RE Thinking Energy, points out that the transition to a sustainable energy future by 2030 is technically feasible and economically viable.
On the same day, Morocco announced its plan to launch a gigantic solar plant next month, capable of providing power to 1 million people.
IRENA’s report offers five key points for making this a vision a reality:
* Strengthen the policy commitment to renewable energy.
* Mobilize investments in renewable energy.
* Build institutional, technical and human capacity to support renewable energy deployment.
* Harness the cross-cutting impact of renewable energy on sustainable development.
* Enhance regional engagement and international cooperation on renewable energy development.
“The strong business case for renewable energy has made the energy transition inevitable,” IRENA Director-General Adnan Amin said.
The Stanford University report goes a step further than IRENA, laying out roadmaps for 139 countries to go 100 percent renewable by 2050. According to the report, 100 percent scientifically doable. They even have a nifty interactive map showing all the countries and their plans.
“I hope that the 139 country roadmaps, together with a just-published grid integration study for the US, will give confidence to leaders of the world that going to 100 percent clean, renewable energy for all purposes will not only provide reliable power at low cost, but will also create 22 million more jobs worldwide than it will cost, reduce international conflict over fuels because each country will largely be energy independent, reduce terrorism risk by providing more distributed power, eliminate the 4-7 million air pollution deaths annually worldwide and eliminate global warming,” said Mark Jacobson, Stanford University professor and main author of the report.
This global 100 percent renewable transition would create 24 million 35-year construction jobs and 26.5 million 35-year operation jobs for the energy facilities alone, the combination of which would outweigh by 22.1 million jobs lost in the conventional fossil fuel sector.
Furthermore, this transformation would eliminate 4.6 million premature air pollution mortalities per year today and 3.3 million per year in 2050, avoiding $25 trillion per year in 2050 air-pollution damage costs (equivalent to 7.9 percent of the 2050 139-country GDP).
But this transition still has a long way to go. Indeed, as of the end of 2014, only three countriesâ€Š [Norway (67 percent), Paraguay (54 percent) and Iceland (39 percent)] have installed more than 35 percent of their energy as renewables. The current world average conversion is 3.8 percent.
This is why Jacobson plans to attend COP21 in Paris next week and present the report to all the 139 governments. “The conversion to 100 percent renewables is technically and economically feasible. The main barriers are still social and political,” the study concludes.
Now all we need is political will and feasibility to make this 100 percent renewable transition a reality. But have no doubt — our 100 percent renewables world starts now.
139 Countries Could Get
All of their Power from Renewable Sources
Energy from wind, water and sun
would eliminate nuclear and fossil fuels
Mark Fischetti / Scientific American
(November 19, 2015) — Mark Jacobson and Mark Delucchi have done it again. This time they’ve spelled out how 139 countries can each generate all the energy needed for homes, businesses, industry, transportation, agriculture — everything — from wind, solar and water power technologies, by 2050.
Their national blueprints, released Nov. 18, follow similar plans they have published in the past few years to run each of the 50 US states on renewables, as well as the entire world. (Have a look for yourself, at your country, using the interactive map below.)
The plans, which list exact numbers of wind turbines, solar farms, hydroelectric dams and such, have been heralded as transformational, and criticized as starry eyed or even nutty.
Determined, Jacobson will take his case to leaders of the 195 nations that will meet at the U.N. climate talks, known as COP 21, which begin in Paris on Nov. 29. His point to them: Although international agreements to reduce carbon dioxide emissions are worthwhile, they would not even be needed if countries switched wholesale to renewable energy, ending the combustion of coal, natural gas and oil that creates the vast majority of those emissions, and without any nuclear power.
“The people there are just not aware of what’s possible,” says Jacobson, a civil and environmental engineering professor at Stanford University and director of the school’s Atmosphere and Energy Program. He is already scheduled to speak twice at the meeting, and will spend the rest of his time trying to talk one on one with national leaders and their aids.
Jacobson thinks the 139 national plans will get traction not only because they offer a path to lower emissions, but because in total, they would create 24 million construction jobs and 26.5 million operational jobs, all spanning 35 years, offsetting 28.4 million jobs lost in the fossil fuel industries.
That would leave a net gain of about 22 million jobs. Going 100 percent renewable would also prevent 3.3 to 4.6 million premature deaths a year through 2050 that would have happened because of air pollution from those fossil fuels. “These numbers are what gets people’s attention,” Jacobson says.
Jacobson and Delucchi, a research scientist at the University of California at Davis, presented their “100 percent renewables” construct to the public for the first time in a 2009 feature article in Scientific American.
It explained how the world could derive all of its power, including for transportation, from 1.7 billion rooftop solar systems, 40,000 photovoltaic power plants, 3.8 million wind turbines, 900 hydroelectric plants, 490,000 tidal turbines and so on.
“The whole idea originated with the Scientific American article,” Jacobson says. “Now there are five or six nonprofit organizations that use ‘100 percent’ in their name. Walmart, Google and Starbucks have said they want to go to 100 percent renewable energy. So have a number of cities. The goal of our plans for US states and the 139 countries is to have places set their own ‘100 percent’ goals.”
Some have. As a first step, New York and California have both passed legislation calling for about 60 percent of their power to come from a renewable energy mix by 2030. Hillary Clinton has endorsed a 100 percent goal for the US by 2050.
Energy demand across the 139 nations by 2050 would be met with a broad set of wind, water and solar technologies: 19.4 percent onshore wind farms, 12.9 percent offshore wind farms, 42.2 percent utility-scale photovoltaic arrays, 5.6 percent rooftop solar panels, 6.0 percent commercial rooftop solar panels, 7.7 percent concentrated solar power arrays, 4.8 percent hydroelectricity, and 1.47 percent geothermal, wave and tidal power.
Jacobson, Delucchi and more than a dozen colleagues from around the world have posted the details, country by country, in a self-published paper they released online. Hoping to make it available for COP, they have yet to publish it in a journal, but they intend to, Jacobson says. The previous plans have all been published.
The big knock against renewables such as wind and solar is that they are intermittent; the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine. That means large amounts of energy storage are needed to save up excess power generated when these technologies are going full bore, which can then be tapped when they are low.
Storage adds substantial cost and complexity to a renewable energy system. But Jacobson has an answer.
By using a smart mix of technologies that complement one another during different parts of the day and different weather conditions, storage can be kept to a minimum. He, Delucchi and two colleagues explain how this can work across the US in a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that will be published Nov. 23.
The engineering detail in all these papers and plans is staggering. The document released for the 139 countries provides an itemized mix of technologies and costs for every nation, as well as how much land and rooftop area would be required. Since 2009 the two researchers, working with many others, have honed the numbers again and again.
Now what is needed most, Jacobson says, is exposure. “We have talked to hundreds of expert and politicians. Now we need to reach hundreds of millions of people,” in hopes that they will see the possibilities and begin to call for them.
That’s why Jacobson and several high-profile businesspeople and entertainers started the Solutions Project to educate the public, business owners and policy makers about the roadmaps. Support comes from the Elon Musk Foundation, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and others.
“We are tying to find a way to combine business and culture and science to get the information out — to engage, to tell stories,” Jacobson says. He himself scored a spot on David Letterman’s Late Night show in 2013.
He says DiCaprio is planning to visit COP 21 while he is there. “We want to translate the benefits of the plans for people everywhere,” Jacobson says. “That’s when good things will happen.”
Renewables Could Provide 50% of US Electricity by 2020
(November 20, 2015) — Renewable energy generation is economically viable in many parts of the USA, mainly due to rapidly declining technology costs, according to analysis by the US Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
Analysts at the NREL have developed a method for measuring the economic potential of renewable energy across the country and published the findings in a report ‘Estimating Renewable Energy Economic Potential in the United States: Methodology and Initial Results’.
It describes a geospatial analysis method used to estimate the economic potential of several renewable resources, including photovoltaics (PV), wind, geothermal, biomass and hydropower resources.
The report found that when the social cost of carbon is taken into account, renewable generation is economically viable in many parts of the country.
At 2014 costs, the technologies combine for 820 TWh of estimated economic potential beyond the generation from renewable energy facilities already in operation.
This additional potential is equivalent to nearly 20% of total US annual electricity generation from all sources in 2014.
The study also found that projected future renewable energy cost reductions yield further increases.
At 2020 projected costs, economic potential equals almost half of US annual generation; in 2030, further cost reductions result in over 75% of generation.
NREL energy analyst Philipp Beiter said: “This report presents one method for estimating economic potential.
“The initial results are intended to explore this method as a screening metric for understanding the economic viability of renewable generation at a detailed geospatial resolution.
“Declining renewable technology costs are a significant driver for these results.”
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