Stanford Researchers Have an Exciting Plan to Tackle The Climate Emergency Worldwide
By TESSA KOUMOUNDOUROS - 27. December 2019
Things are pretty dire right now. Giant swaths of my country are burning as I write this, at a scale unlike anything we've ever seen. Countless animals, including koalas, are perishing along with our life-supporting greenery. People are losing homes and loved ones.
These catastrophes are being replicated around the globe ever more frequently, and we know exactly what is exacerbating them. We know we need to rapidly make some drastic changes - and Stanford researchers have come up with a plan.
Using the latest data available, they have outlined how 143 countries around the world can switch to 100 percent clean energy by the year 2050.
This plan could not only contribute towards stabilising our dangerously increasing global temperatures, but also reduce the 7 million deaths caused by pollution every year and create millions more jobs than keeping our current systems.
The plan would require a hefty investment of around US$73 trillion. But the researchers' calculations show the jobs and savings it would earn would pay this back in as little as seven years.
"Based on previous calculations we have performed, we believe this will avoid 1.5 degree global warming," environmental engineer and lead author Mark Jacobson told ScienceAlert.
"The timeline is more aggressive than any IPCC scenario - we concluded in 2009 that a 100 percent transition by 2030 was technically and economically possible - but for social and political reasons, a 2050 date is more practical."
Here's how it would work. The plan involves transitioning all our energy sectors, including electricity, transport, industry, agriculture, fishing, forestry and the military to work entirely with renewable energy.
Jacobson believes we have 95 percent of the technology we need already, with only solutions for long distance and ocean travel still to be commercialised.
"By electrifying everything with clean, renewable energy, we reduce power demand by about 57 percent," Jacobson explained.
He and colleagues show it is possible to meet demand and maintain stable electricity grids using only wind, water, solar and storage, across all 143 countries.
These technologies are already available, reliable and respond much faster than natural gas, so they are already cheaper. There's also no need for nuclear which takes 10-19 years between planning and operation, biofuels that cause more air pollution, or the invention of new technologies.
"'Clean coal' just doesn't exist and never will," Jacobson says, "because the technology does not work and only increases mining and emissions of air pollutants while reducing little carbon, and their is no guarantee at all the carbon that is captured will stay captured."
The team found that electrifying all energy sectors makes the demand for energy more flexible and the combination of renewable energy and storage is better suited to meet this flexibility than our current system.
This plan "creates 28.6 million more full-time jobs in the long term than business as usual and only needs approximately 0.17 percent and approximately 0.48 percent land for new footprint and distance respectively," the researchers write in their report.
Building the infrastructure necessary for this transition would, of course, create CO2 emissions. The researchers calculated that the necessary steel and concrete would require about 0.914 percent of current CO2 emissions. But switching to renewables to produce the concrete would reduce this.
With plans this big there are plenty of uncertainties, and some inconsistencies between databases. The team takes these into account by modelling several scenarios with different levels of costs and climate damage.
"You're probably not going to predict exactly what's going to happen," said Jacobson. "But there are many solutions and many scenarios that could work."
Technology writer Michael Barnard believes the study's estimates are quite conservative - skewing towards the more expensive technologies and scenarios.
"Storage is a solved problem," he writes for CleanTechnica. "Even the most expensive and conservative projections as used by Jacobson are much, much cheaper than business as usual, and there are many more solutions in play."
The authors of the report stress that while implementing such an energy transition, it is also crucial that we simultaneously tackle emissions coming from other sources like fertilisers and deforestation.
This proposal could earn push-back from industries and politicians that have the most to lose, especially those with a track record of throwing massive resources at delaying our progress towards a more sustainable future. Criticisms of the team's previous work have already been linked back to these exact groups.
But "the costs of transitioning have dropped so low, transitions are occurring even in places without policies," said Jacobson. "For example, in the US, 9 out of the 10 states with the most wind power installed are Republican-voting states with few or no policies promoting wind power."
Over 60 countries have already passed laws to transition to 100 percent renewable electricity by between 2020 and 2050. This guide can give them and other countries an example of how this can practically be done.
"There's really no downside to making this transition," Jacobson explained to Bloomberg. "Most people are afraid it will be too expensive. Hopefully this will allay some of those fears."
At least 11 independent research groups agree this type of transition is possible, including energy researchers Mark Diesendorf and Ben Elliston from University of New South Wales, Australia.
They reviewed major criticisms of 100 percent renewable energy transition plans and concluded "the principal barriers to [100 percent renewable electricity systems] are neither technological nor economic, but instead are primarily political, institutional and cultural."
So, multiple lines of evidence insist we have the technology, resources and knowledge to make this possible. The only question is, can enough of us put aside our fears and ideologies to make it happen?
"The biggest risk is that the plans are not implemented quickly enough," Jacobson said. "I hope people will take these plans to their policymakers in their country to help solve these problems."
Article| Volume 1, ISSUE 4, P449-463, December 20, 2019
Green New Deal all-sector energy roadmaps are developed for 143 countries
WWS grid stability is analyzed, and cost metrics are developed for BAU versus WWS energy
WWS energy reduces energy needs by 57.1%, energy costs by 61%, and social costs by 91%
WWS energy costs $73 trillion upfront and creates 28.6 million more jobs than BAU energy
Science for Society
The Earth is approaching 1.5°C global warming, air pollution kills over 7 million people yearly, and limited fossil fuel resources portend social instability. Rapid solutions are needed. We provide Green New Deal roadmaps for all three problems for 143 countries, representing 99.7% of world’s CO2 emissions. The roadmaps call for countries to move all energy to 100% clean, renewable wind-water-solar (WWS) energy, efficiency, and storage no later than 2050 with at least 80% by 2030. We find that countries and regions avoid blackouts despite WWS variability. Worldwide, WWS reduces energy needs by 57.1%, energy costs from $17.7 to $6.8 trillion/year (61%), and social (private plus health plus climate) costs from $76.1 to $6.8 trillion/year (91%) at a capital cost of ∼$73 trillion. WWS creates 28.6 million more long-term, full-time jobs than are lost and needs only 0.17% and 0.48% of land for footprint and space, respectively. Thus, WWS needs less energy, costs less, and creates more jobs than current energy.
Global warming, air pollution, and energy insecurity are three of the greatest problems facing humanity. To address these problems, we develop Green New Deal energy roadmaps for 143 countries. The roadmaps call for a 100% transition of all-purpose business-as-usual (BAU) energy to wind-water-solar (WWS) energy, efficiency, and storage by 2050 with at least 80% by 2030. Our studies on grid stability find that the countries, grouped into 24 regions, can match demand exactly from 2050 to 2052 with 100% WWS supply and storage. We also derive new cost metrics. Worldwide, WWS energy reduces end-use energy by 57.1%, aggregate private energy costs from $17.7 to $6.8 trillion/year (61%), and aggregate social (private plus health plus climate) costs from $76.1 to $6.8 trillion/year (91%) at a present value capital cost of ∼$73 trillion. WWS energy creates 28.6 million more long-term, full-time jobs than BAU energy and needs only ∼0.17% and ∼0.48% of land for new footprint and spacing, respectively. Thus, WWS requires less energy, costs less, and creates more jobs than does BAU.
and check your country:
100% Wind, Water, and Solar (WWS) All-Sector Energy Roadmaps for Countries, States, Cities, and TownsFollow @mzjacobson
Impacts of Green New Deal energy plans on grid stability, costs, jobs, health, and climate in 143 countries
Paper+Supplementary Info: One Earth, 2019 (pdf) (high-res pdf)
Link to article in One Earth (link)
143-country xlsx-spreadsheets (xlsx)
Op-ed summary of paper: Green New Deals for the World are Green Good Deals (link)
Timeline and land area to transition 143 countries to 100% WWS and 5 reasons demand decreases 57.1% along the way (pdf)
Country-by-country infographics (link) Infographic for sum of 143 countries (link)
Green New Deal summaries for individual regions (Africa) (Australia) (Canada) (Central America) (Central Asia) (China region) (Cuba) (Europe) (Haiti-Dominican Republic) (Iceland) (India region) (Israel) (Jamaica) (Japan) (Mauritius) (Middle East) (New Zealand) (Philippines) (Russia region) (Southeast Asia) (South Korea) (South America) (Taiwan) (United States)
Countries, states, cities, and businesses that have reached or committed to 100% renewables (pdf)
Roadmaps to convert 139 countries to 100% Wind, Water, and Sunlight (WWS) for all purposes
Paper+Supplementary Info: Joule, 2017 (pdf)
Link to article in Joule (link)
139-country xlsx-spreadsheets (xlsx)
Country-by-country infographics (link)
139-Country Summary Infographic (pdf)
General summary 139-country roadmaps, Earth's Future, 2017 (pdf)
Layman's summary 139-country & 50-state roadmaps Oct. 31, 2016 (pdf)
Electrification Technologies to obtain 100% WWS (pdf)
Transition timeline to 100% WWS (png)
Change of CO2 Upon Implementing WWS (pdf)
More detailed roadmap for Israel by Liat Chobadi (M.S. Thesis, March 2017) (pdf)
Reply to Commentary, Electricity Journal, 2018 (pdf)
Presentation slides from June 2, 2019, Transitioning the world's energy for all purposes to stable energy powered by 100% wind, water, and sunlight, (pptx)
Graphical video 139-country roadmaps 2017 (video)
Video on reducing power demand with electrification 2017 (video)
NOAA video explaining 139-country roadmaps Aug. 7, 2017 (video)
NPR Science Friday 139 Country Roadmaps Aug. 26, 2017 (link)
Interview on Simulation Series: Path to a 100% Renewable World July 10, 2018 (video)
NHK Interview: 100% renewable energy for the world March 8, 2018 (mp4)
Climate Reality video: Transitioning countries, states, cities, towns, and homes to 100% clean, renewable energy for all purposes Feb. 25, 2018 (video)
Video Paris Petit Palais-Summary 139 country roadmaps Dec. 7, 2015 (video)
Interview on Late Show With David Letterman Oct. 9, 2013 (video)
Percent of needed 2050 WWS installed by country as of 2018 end (pdf); 2015 end (pdf)
Wind installed by country as of 2018 end (pdf); 2015 end (pdf)
PV installed by country as of 2018 end (pdf); 2015 end (pdf)
CSP installed by country as of 2018 end (pdf); 2015 end (pdf)
Hydro installed by country as of 2018 end (pdf); 2015 end (pdf)
Geothermal installed by country as of 2018 end (pdf); 2015 end (pdf)
Tidal installed by country as of 2018 end (pdf); 2015 end (pdf)
Pumped hydro storage installed by country as of 2018 end (pdf); 2015 end (pdf)
Solar thermal for heat installed by country as of 2018 end (pdf)
Updated timeline and land area to transition 143 countries to 100% WWS and 5 reasons demand decreases 57.1% along the way (pdf)
Diagram of the components of WWS generation, storage, and use (pdf)
Why 100% WWS and the Green New Deal cuts consumer costs and unemployment (MSNBC Interview)(Op-Ed)(Graphic)
How to eliminate all non-energy emissions in a 100% WWS World (pdf)
Countries, states, districts, counties, cities, towns, and businesses that have reached or committed to 100% renewables in one or more energy sector (pdf)
How clean, renewable wind-water-solar (WWS) energy reduces four types of energy insecurities that fossil fuels, with or without carbon capture, and nuclear create (pdf)
How reducing transmission and distribution losses 1% can reduce fossil use 1.6 to 5.4% (pdf)
Maximum extractable wind power on Earth is 58 times that needed for our 2050 roadmaps (pdf)
Air pollution from fossil fuels, biofuels, bioenergy, and biomass burning is 2nd leading cause of death; a 100% WWS world will eliminate most deaths (pdf)
Roadmaps to convert the 50 United States to 100% WWS for all purposes
Summary paper: Energy and Environmental Sciences 2015 (pdf)
50-state xlsx-spreadsheets (xlsx)
State-by-state infographics (link)
National Geographic article/graphics (link)
Frequently-asked questions (link)
Op-ed about land areas (link)
Roadmaps to convert 53 Towns and Cities to 100% WWS for all purposes
Grid integration studies showing 100% reliability of a 100% WWS in the U.S. and Worldwide
Matching demand with supply at low cost in 139 countries among 20 world regions with 100% intermittent wind, water, and sunlight for all purposes (2018) (link)
A low-cost solution to the grid reliability problem with 100% penetration of intermittent wind, water, and solar for all purposes (PNAS, 2015) (link)
Roadmaps to convert New York, California, Washington State individually to 100% WWS
New York State (Energy Policy, 2013) (pdf). Response to commentary (pdf). Letter (pdf)
California (Energy, 2014) (pdf)(xlsx-spreadsheets)(news summary)
Washington State (Renewable Energy, 2016) (pdf)(xlsx-spreadsheets)
Roadmaps for the world and U.S. as a whole to go to 100% WWS (link)
Original justification for using 100% Wind, Water, Sunlight (WWS) (link)
Abstract of and links to all 100% WWS roadmap and grid reliability papers (pdf)
The Solutions Project video (link)
Testimony to House Committee on Energy and Commerce about 50-state plans, 139-country plans, and grid integration study, November 19, 2015 (pdf)
April 9, 2019, Sustain Europe, Interview by John J. Berger (pdf)
April 25, 2015, 350, Siena Heights University, Adrian, Michigan, WWS (video)
February 24, 2014 TEDx Palo Alto WWS (video)
February 18, 2014 Interview about WWS on Thom Hartmann Show (video)