Study: U.S. could run entirely on renewable energy by 2050


(MEDIA GENERAL) – A new study has mapped out a potential plan for the United States to completely transition to clean, renewable energy by 2050.

According to the research study leader Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford, the process would demand significant upfront costs, but over time would be roughly equal to the costs of maintaining the fossil fuel infrastructure currently in place.

“When you account for the health and climate costs – as well as the rising price of fossil fuels – wind, water and solar are half the cost of conventional systems,” Jacobson said. “A conversion of this scale would also create jobs, stabilize fuel prices, reduce pollution-related health problems and eliminate emissions from the United States. There is very little downside to a conversion, at least based on this science.”

Among the positives of switching to clean energy: reducing air pollution in the U.S. that could be linked to the deaths of approximately 63,000 Americans each year, and eliminating greenhouse gases produced by fossil fuel that would cost the world approximately $3.3 trillion per year by 2050, per a report.

Jacobson said his study, published in May in the online edition of Energy and Environmental Sciences, focused on making aggressive changes to each state individually that make the most sense to their specific geological advantages and existing infrastructure. The study’s goal was to have every state be 60 percent electrified by renewable energy sources by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050.

The challenging step, per Jacobson, is calculating how current fuel demands – which include coal, oil, gas and nuclear, as well as renewable energy – can be converted to electricity.

“The main barriers are social, political and getting industries to change,” Jacobson said. “One way to overcome the barriers is to inform people about what is possible. By showing that it’s technologically and economically possible, this study could reduce the barriers to a large scale transformation.”READ MORE |

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