Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A World Without Fossil Fuels: Imagine That

Energy Future


Clean Energy by 2030: "There is a huge savings in lives. The New York plan would prevent 4,000 mortalities a year in the state due to less air pollution, and a related savings of $33 billion—about 3 percent of the GDP of the state. That resonates more with people than climate change issues. We also looked at job creation; more jobs would be created than lost," Jacobson in the article says.
Image Credit: Karl Burkart

An article, by Mark Fischetti, in Scientific American reports on the possibility of a future world without the need to use fossil fuels; first stop: New York.

Fischetti writes:
Three times now, Mark Jacobson has gone out on the same limb. In 2009 he and co-author Mark Delucchi published a cover story in Scientific American that showed how the entire world could get all of its energy—fuel as well as electricity—from wind, water and solar sources by 2030. No coal or oil, no nuclear or natural gas. The tale sounded infeasible—except that Jacobson, from Stanford University, and Delucchi, from the University of California, Davis, calculated just how many hydroelectric dams, wave-energy systems, wind turbines, solar power plants and rooftop photovoltaic installations the world would need to run itself completely on renewable energy.
The article sparked a spirited debate on our Web site, and it also sparked a larger debate between forward-looking energy planners and those who would rather preserve the status quo. The duo went on to publish a detailed study in the journal Energy Policy that also called out numbers for a U.S. strategy.
Two weeks ago Jacobson and a larger team, including Delucchi, did it again. This time Jacobson showed in much finer detail how New York State’s residential,transportation, industrial, and heating and cooling sectors could all be powered by wind, water and sun, or “WWS,” as he calls it. His mix: 40 percent offshore wind (12,700 turbines), 10 percent onshore wind (4,020 turbines), 10 percent concentrated solar panels (387 power plants), 10 percent photovoltaic cells (828 facilities), 6 percent residential solar (five million rooftops), 12 percent government and commercial solar (500,000 rooftops), 5 percent geothermal (36 plants), 5.5 percent hydroelectric (6.6 large facilities), 1 percent tidal energy (2,600 turbines) and 0.5 percent wave energy (1,910 devices).
In the process, New York would reduce power demand by 37 percent, largely because the new energy sources are more efficient than the old ones. And because no fossil fuels would have to be purchased or burned, consumer costs would be similar to what they are today, and the state would eliminate a huge portion of its carbon dioxide emissions.
Of course, Jacobson and Delucchi have their detractors, saying their ideas are pure imagination, a pipe dream of sorts. This might be considered a serious argument except for two salient facts: 1) Jacobson is a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, and Delucchi is a research scientist at the Institute of Transportation Studies at University of California, Davis; and 2) together, they have amassed a “book” of scientific evidence and calculations to support this claim.

All inventions, most notably ideas that projected forward, were at one time considered impossible to implement. And yet here we are living now with many of such ideas. No one doubts that it will take much concerted effort, and perhaps a few failures along the way, to fully implement nation-wide program of zero fossil fuel in a few decades, but that has been the path of most, if not all, great societal transformations. Changing the energy source can prove to have long-term benefits for humanity. It has to start somewhere  and sometime.

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You can read the rest of the article at [ScientAmer]

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