The US could ditch fossil fuels in just 40 years – if we want to
A lifelong dream of many US environmentalists could become a reality in the next 40 years – to finally get rid of fossil fuels entirely. That’s according to researchers from Stanford University and U.C. Berkeley, who have devised a plan to convert all of the states in the country to renewable energy sources in 4 decades.
To get to that fantastic conclusion, the authors analyzed how each state uses its energy today in four main sectors – residential, commercial, industrial and transportation. They broke down each of these sectors according to the current amount of fuel used in them, as well as the sources of such fuel. From that, they calculated how much electricity it would be needed to cover the fuel demands. Finally, they calculated how this demand could be covered with a new electric grid powered with renewable energy resources alone. The results are amazing.
By using resources available in each state (wind, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal and even tidal and wave power), the new grid could be up, running and covering that demand in just 40 years. The best news is that the prospected numbers show that by using this model, there would be a 39% reduction in total end-use power demand by 2050.
But that’s not all. The study also reports that we are already on our way there. Thanks to the efforts in several states across the country, we already have the foundations on which that new electricity grid could be built upon. For instance, and as the own study reports, Washington state already has 70% of its energy demand covered with hydroelectric sources. Encouraging the same in other states could speed up the process in a national level.
Of course, for this plan to succeed there’ll have to be lots of hard and expensive changes. The industrial and political sectors might be the ones that oppose this kind of project more fiercely but the social barrier is also there waiting to be overcome. However, the authors believe that the project could become a reality by showing people that it’s technologically and economically possible. Additionally, showcasing the huge benefits of the transformation – more jobs, stabilized fuel prices, reduced pollution, decreasing emissions – would help by making a significant impact on the general public.
The report is already on the table and up for discussion. The drive of The Solutions Project (the organization of scientists, business leaders and renowned green minds behind the project) and the recent inclusion of high-profile funders such as the Elon Musk Foundation and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation should make the report more widely available for everyone to read and comment on. In the meantime, we have an obligation to read it carefully and consider it with all seriousness because on its pages there might be the bright tomorrow we all are looking for.