Mark Jacobson Maps the Globe for Clean Energy

Thursday, June 7, 2018 (Listed under Environment)

Try as they may, clean energy innovation naysayers can't change a simple truth: the cost of wind and solar power electrical power generation is plummeting and renewable energy is now cheaper than operating old coal and nuclear power plants. It's happening fast and there's no stopping it.

Mark Z. Jacobson, a pioneering Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor at Stanford University, has charted a path for a national—and even global—transition to clean power adoption. Jacobson's models map 50 U.S. states and 139 countries for massive build-outs of wind, solar and water-powered electrical power. The cost of conversion to a 100% electrical powered planet is largely offset by the savings associated with a decrease in premature deaths caused each year by air pollution related to fossil fuel combustion.

The maps are pretty fun. Check out the map of Texas (my home) here. You'll note that by 2050, a whopping 63.9% of the electricity required by the nation's second largest state could come from a combination of wind and solar power.

Not surprisingly, Jacobson's breakthrough blueprints have come under some scrutiny because to put them into action would mean an epic and permanent shift in the way power is generated, distributed and consumed. It means that the majority of fossil fuel reserves in the ground will likely remain in the ground.

That's a lot of natural gas reserves that would no longer need to be fracked and burned to make electricity. It's a lot of coal as well. And though the value of that buried power will one day be largely diminished as renewables continue to gain significant market share, its perceived value today is still compelling, owing to the market's failure to calculate its myriad external costs—costs that include over 1.5 million premature deaths worldwide, annually.


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