Graph of the Day: California’s blue-print for 100% renewables

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New US study projects that, by 2050, 100% of US energy demand could be met by wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal and hydro – and no nuclear.

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Another week, another model illustrating how communities, and entire countries, can meet 100 per cent of their energy needs using renewable energy. This week, our friends at Greentech Media brought our attention to some new calculations by Stanford professor Mark Jacobson, projecting that, by 2050, 100 per cent of US energy demand could be met by onshore and offshore wind, utility-scale and rooftop PV, concentrated solar power, geothermal, wave, tidal and conventional hydropower.

According to The Solutions Project study, this would only be achievable if all new generation came from “the wind, water and sunlight” (WWS) energy technologies by 2020. WWS would then need to replace at least 80 per cent of existing energy by 2030 for the US to reach 100 per cent renewables by 2050. Interestingly, the plan also eliminates nuclear energy due to energy intensity and project time frames. In his analysis, Jacobson notes that the fossil fuels used to extract and refine uranium nine to 25 times the amount used by wind energy per unit of energy produced, while a nuclear plant can take between 10-19 years to get into operation, compared to WWS projects, which take two to five years.

As Greentech media notes, the study recommends a different resource mix for each US state, which can compared using the interactive US map created for the report. Below is the blueprint for California.

6Jacobson50states

 Source: Another blueprint for 100% renewables by mid-century

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3 Comments
  1. Matthew Wright 5 years ago

    That’s an awesome technology mix, however needs a little more ambition on the target date, 2050 is just too far out and doesn’t make sense given that there is too much carbon in the atmosphere today, March 13th 2014.

    • Bob_Wallace 5 years ago

      I agree. And I think we’ll get there sooner.

      Give the country a few more years of extreme weather experience and let the word get how affordable wind and solar have become and there is likely to be a very large push for installation.

      We’re still on track to see the first summer meltout of the Arctic Ocean. Videos of the Arctic free of ice is likely to be a real convincer for many.

      I suspect Mark may have used 2050 in order to get people to focus on the technology. When he did the Scientific American article in 2009 showing how the planet could move to 100% renewables in 20 years it was too easy for people to dismiss the short time frame.

    • Miles Harding 5 years ago

      Very true.
      I would be happy with 100% by 2050, but it will be used as an excuse to do nothing until 2049. I like the idea of a progression of targets in the interim. Much of this progress can be made relatively easily and should be done as soon as possible, leaving the complete displacement of the small amount of remaining fossil fuels until later in the programme.

      The other side of the coin has to be the consumer’s addiction to “stuff” that consumes energy. I feel that there is little chance of getting away from fossil fuels while present consumer mentality prevails.

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