BY: TYLER FYFE
A new study by Mark Z. Jacobson of Stanford University in collaboration with U.C. Berkeley is the first guidebook for all 50 states to run on 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050. If progressive politicians at the state level put the plan into action, each state could achieve at least an 80 per cent transition as early as 2030.
Jacobson’s research shows that environment and economy are not opposites. Across all 50 states, converting would provide 40-year employment for 3.9 million construction jobs and 2.0 million operation jobs—significantly outweighing the 3.9 million jobs in the traditional fossil fuel-based energy sector.
Being that some states have more moving bodies of water to build hydroelectric dams while others have copious amounts of coal, researchers looked at four sectors in each state—commercial, industrial, transportation and residential—and began making drastic changes to energy infrastructure according to each individual state’s needs.
By analyzing all 50 states for sun exposure, wind maps, and existing hydroelectric dams, the research team created plans to power new grids using wind, water, sunlight, and geothermal energy. Their findings provide regionally customized roadmaps to carbon-neutrality.
The study is part of The Solutions Project, a data-driven innovation venture aimed at influencing policy change at the state level to eventually produce a national transition to clean-energy infrastructures.
The project’s concept has attracted high-profile funders including The Elon Musk Foundation, The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and Mark Ruffalo, who sits on the board of directors.
In 2014 alone, 67 per cent of the 4093 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity was produced by fossil fuels. Out of the energy used for transportation in 2013, petroleum accounted for 92 per cent, while electricity accounted for less than 1 percent. To put that in perspective, that’s 8.6 million barrels of gasoline, burned per day.
Carbon emissions contribute to the death of 63,000 Americans every year due to air pollution—the same number of lives Jacobson’s science states it will save.