Quantcast
Energy

Here's How 139 Countries Can Convert to 100% Renewable Energy by 2050

Two years ago, Stanford University professor Mark Jacobson and his collaborators published a widely circulated study that detailed how the U.S. can eliminate nuclear, biofuels and fossil fuels and transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

Now, in a paper published Wednesday in the new scientific journal Joule, Jacobson and 26 co-authors created clean energy roadmaps not just for the 50 United States, but for 139 individual countries.


"These roadmaps provide the first specific plans ever produced by country for the world to avoid 1.5 degrees Celsius global warming," said Jacobson, the director of Stanford's Atmosphere and Energy Program and co-founder of the Solutions Project, a U.S. non-profit advocating for the world's transition to renewable energy.

According to the study, successful implementation of the plan would mean that solar would provide 57.6 percent of the world's energy, 37.1 percent from wind and the remainder would come from a mix of hydroelectric, geothermal, tidal and wave energy.

And yes, this transition would be expensive, at the tune of roughly $124.7 trillion. But as Rob Jordan of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment points out from the study, since sunshine and wind does not cost money, "the overall cost spread over time, including for operation, maintenance, transmission and storage, would be roughly equal to the direct price of the fossil fuel infrastructure."

Not only that, the renewable energy industry is a bonafide job provider—U.S. solar employs more workers than any other energy industry, including coal, oil and natural gas combined. Additionally, a recent study from the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab recent found that the U.S. wind and solar power boom helped prevent the premature deaths of thousands of people and saved the country billions of dollars in healthcare and climate-related costs in the years spanning 2007 through 2015.

As Jacobson said, "the beautiful part is that such a transition will also create over 20 million more permanent full-time jobs than lost worldwide, save consumers money and avoid over 3 percent of each country's GDP in air pollution health costs alone."

The 139 nations, which collectively emit more than 99 percent of all carbon dioxide worldwide, were selected based on available International Energy Agency data. Each country was also assessed for their raw renewable energy resources.

The plan requires a rapid electrification of an individual country's entire energy sector—that means transportation, electricity, industry, agriculture/forestry/fishing, and heating or cooling needs. Consumers worldwide would have to switch to electric heat pumps for air and water heating, induction cooktop stoves and electric vehicles, for instance.

Jacobson and his collaborators' plan has been criticized by some for excluding nuclear power, coal, natural gas or biofuels. However, Jacobson and colleagues intentionally excluded these fuels in their study. Nuclear, for instance, has been associated with high costs and risk of meltdown. "Clean coal" and biofuels emit much more carbon per unit of energy than wind, water or solar power.

While the idea of a 100-percent renewable energy-powered planet might sound far-fetched to some, bit-by-bit, businesses, cities and countries around the world have pledged to make the transition. Earlier this month, Orlando became the 40th U.S. city to commit to a 100 percent clean energy future.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Climate
A train at Metro-North Railroad's Croton-Harmon station, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 30, 2012. Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York / CC BY 2.0

The Big Apple Loses to Big Oil as Judge Dismisses Climate Liability Suit

A federal judge ruled on Thursday in favor of a motion by five big oil companies to dismiss a lawsuit brought against them by New York City, which demanded they pay the costs of adapting the city's infrastructure to climate change, The New York Times reported.

The ruling comes nearly a month after a federal judge in San Francisco dismissed a similar case brought by the cities of Oakland and San Francisco.

Keep reading... Show less
GMO
Brian Smith and his cousin Hughes, both fifth generation soybean farmers in Mississippi County, Arkansas, stand in soybean fields their family tend to that show signs of having been affected by dicamba use in August, 2017. Getty Images

New Dicamba Drift Estimate: 1.1 Million Acres Damaged Already in 2018

A University of Missouri report released Thursday estimates that drift damage from the pesticide dicamba has occurred across 1.1 million acres of agricultural crops, trees and other plants so far this year.

This comes less than a year after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and many states introduced additional restrictions meant to prevent off-target damage from the pesticide. Last year dicamba drift wreaked havoc on a reported 3.6 million acres of soybean crops not genetically engineered to resist the notoriously drift-prone pesticide.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
Andreas Gücklhorn

Most Popular Energy Source? Everyone Loves Solar

By John Rogers

A recent survey shows yet again that solar panels (and wind turbines) have a level of bipartisan popularity that would be the envy of any politician. That means we'll have something safe to talk about at the next barbecue after all.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Moon with orange-colored troposphere band, the lowest and most dense portion of the earth's atmosphere. NASA

‘Powerful Evidence’ of Global Warming’s Effect on Seasons Found in Troposphere

By Daisy Dunne

Scientists studying the troposphere—the lowest level of the atmosphere—have found "powerful evidence" that climate change is altering seasonal temperatures.

A study published in Science finds that climate change has caused an increase in the difference between summer and winter temperatures across North America and Eurasia over the past four decades.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Health
Susan Hedman, administrator of EPA's Region 5 during the Flint water crisis, testifies before congress. Mark Wilson / Getty Images

EPA Watchdog Finds Agency Failed in Flint Water Crisis

A report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) internal watchdog organization published Thursday argued that the EPA needed to step up its monitoring of state drinking water in the aftermath of the Flint, Michigan water crisis, CBS reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Emilie Chen / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Against All Odds, Mountain Gorilla Numbers Are on the Rise

By Jason Bittel

The news coming out of East Africa's Virunga Mountains these days would have made the late (and legendary) conservationist Dian Fossey very happy. According to the most recent census, the mountain gorillas introduced to the world in Gorillas in the Mist, Fossey's book and the film about her work, have grown their ranks from 480 animals in 2010 to 604 as of June 2016. Add another couple hundred apes living in scattered habitats to the south, and their population as a whole totals more than 1,000. Believe it or not, this makes the mountain gorilla subspecies the only great apes known to be increasing in number.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Animals
The Florida manatee is one of the animals currently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. USFWS / Southeast

Trump Administration Announces Sweeping Proposal to Weaken Endangered Species Act

A week after House Republicans announced legislation intended to weaken the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Trump administration joined the attack with a proposal environmentalists say would favor developers over vulnerable plant and animal species.

Keep reading... Show less
Renewable Energy
Denver will get 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. Robert Kash / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Denver to Go 100 Percent Renewable by 2030

Denver became the 73rd city in the U.S. to commit to 100 percent renewable energy when Mayor Michael Hancock announced the goal in his State of the City speech Monday, The Denver Post reported.

The commitment is part of the city's larger 80×50 Climate Action Plan unveiled by Hancock Tuesday, which seeks to reduce Denver's greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent from 2005 levels by the year 2050.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!