Can the world run on renewables? Yes, Stanford researchers say.
by Mike Colagrossi 22 September, 2019
Study presents roadmaps for 139 countries to go 100 percent renewable.
Authors suggested it was a much more aggressive strategy than the Paris agreement.
Researchers found that it's possible with current technology and capabilites to go full renewable by 2050.
The fossil fuels that we're currently dependent on for much of our energy consumption — among them, coal, natural gas, and oil — are not renewable resources. It's been a common fact for quite some time that when we exhaust these resources, we won't be able to produce any more. Still, with that being said, many regard renewable energy as a subpar and less dependable energy source than our go-to fossil fuels.
Yet, according to the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energies already account for 15 percent of our total electricity generation. Investments in renewable energy is occurring rapidly and places once seen as petroleum producing havens (such as Texas) now account for 12 percent of their energy production from renewables.
This said, as the world marches steadily on toward a future of renewable energy, one 2017 study, published in the journal Joule, indicates that a total overhaul may happen sooner than we think.
One hundred percent renewable energy
The extensive study analyzed the 139 countries that are responsible for 99 percent of global carbon emissions. Overall, the researchers found that the planet should be ready to go 100 percent renewable by 2050.
In the completed report, the authors lay out renewable energy roadmaps — overviews of how each country can transition completely away from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Their work doesn't just provide blueprints, though. The researchers also explain how in transitioning we can avoid 1.5°C global warming, create 24.3 million long-term jobs, reduce the social cost of energy, and increase worldwide access to energy.
Mark Z. Jacobson, lead researcher of the study stated, "I was surprised by how many countries we found had sufficient resources to power themselves with 100 percent wind, water, and solar power."
All of these countries would be able to use renewable energy contained within their own borders and could most likely rely on technologies they currently possess. Researchers also talked about how the shift to 100 percent renewables would decrease the amount of land dedicated to energy production. Jacobson writes:
"The entire renewable energy footprint [. . .] is on order of 1.15 to 1.2 percent of the world's land. But keep in mind that 20 percent of the world's land is used for agriculture. In the United States, if you just look at oil and gas, there are 1.7 million active oil and gas wells and 2.3 million inactive wells. Collectively they take up somewhere between one to two percent of the U.S. land area. And that's not counting the refineries, the pipelines, or coal and nuclear infrastructure."
Each day we're beginning to see an increased amount of effort and investment being funneled into purely renewable energy resources. Indeed, the trend is spreading far and wide throughout the world.
Link to the original source: https://bigthink.com/technology-innovation/100-percent-renewable-energy?rebelltitem=2#rebelltitem2