Standford University scientists have drawn up roadmaps to transform the energy infrastructures (electricity, transportation, heating/cooling, industry, agriculture/forestry/fishing) of 139 countries to ones powered by wind, water, and sunlight (WWS).
The roadmaps focus on 70% of the world’s nations which produce more than 99% of global carbon dioxide emissions. Thy describe a future where all energy sectors are electrified or use heat directly with existing technology and energy demand is lower due to several factors, and the electricity is generated with 100% wind, water, and sunlight (WWS).
The scientiests believe implementation of the roadmaps can largely solve the world’s climate-change, air-pollution, and energy-security problems, avoid 1.5C global warming and prevent millions of premature deaths from air pollution.
The roadmaps envision 80% conversion by 2030 and 100% by 2050. The WWS approach not only replaces business-as-usual (BAU) power, but also reduces it by some 42.5% because the work: energy ratio of WWS electricity exceeds that of combustion (23.0%),
WWS requires no mining, transporting, or processing of fuels (12.6%), and WWS end-use efficiency is assumed to exceed that of BAU (6.9%).
Converting may create 24.3 million more permanent, full-time jobs than jobs lost. It may avoid 4.6 million/year premature air-pollution deaths today and 3.5 million/year in 2050; $22.8 trillion/year (12.7 ¢/kWh-BAU-all-energy) in 2050 air-pollution costs; and $28.5 trillion/year (15.8 ¢/kWh-BAU-all-energy) in 2050 climate costs. Transitioning should also stabilize energy prices because fuel costs are zero, reduce power disruption and increase access to energy by decentralizing power, and avoid 1.5C global warming.
Scientists suggest that clean infrastructure would cost a quarter of the current fossil fuel system
They have put forward a “technically and economically feasible” vision to deliver all electricity with wind, water and solar power, and to electrify all energy sectors including transport, heating, industry and agriculture.
“It appears we can achieve the enormous social benefits of a zero-emission energy system at essentially no extra cost,” University of California research scientist and co-author Mark Delucchi said. “Our findings suggest that the benefits are so great that we should accelerate the transition to wind, water and solar as fast as possible, by retiring fossil fuel systems early wherever we can.”
Transitioning to 100% renewables would reduce power disruption, increase access to decentralised energy and stabilise energy prices, according to research. The scientists suggest that clean infrastructure would cost a quarter of the current fossil fuel system.
The elimination of oil, gas and uranium use for mining and transport could reduce international power demand by 13%, according to the study, while the increased efficiency of electricity over burning fossil fuels is predicted to reduce demand by another 23%.
The paper suggests that areas with greater land-to-population ratios, such as the US, EU and China, have an easier pathway to renewable dependence than densely populated nations surrounded by oceans, such as Singapore.
“Both individuals and governments can lead this change,” said Stanford University researcher and co-author Mark Jacobson. “Policymakers don’t usually want to commit to doing something unless there is some reasonable science that can show it is possible, and that is what we are trying to do.”