Study says US could be 100pc powered by renewables by 2050 (infographic)

10 Jun 2015

While some are likely to disagree, a new study published by a group of environmental engineers suggests that, with the right strategy, the US could be 100pc powered by renewable energy by 2050.

Calling it ‘The Solutions Project’, the study has been published in the online edition of Energy and Environmental Sciences, which says that an aggressive policy covering everything from how infrastructure is built to how each state produces and consumes energy would need to be orchestrated by each of the 50 states.

By analysing each state’s current energy demands, the team of engineers was able to deduce how much energy would be needed to bring residential, commercial, industrial and transportation through to 2050 based off established trends.

They then calculated what type and how much of that fuel was being used, and calculated how much renewable energy generation would be needed to replace it, a rather monumental challenge.

Of course, the size of the nation makes it ideal to suit all different types of renewable energy types, with Texas, for example, given the assumption that it could create half of its energy from onshore wind, while Washington in the northwest of the country could generate 35-40pc of its energy from hydroelectricity.

Obvious challenges ahead

One of the directors of the project at Stanford University, professor of civil and environmental engineering Mark Z Jacobsen, says of how it will be possible to push such a large project: “The main barriers are social, political and getting industries to change.

“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.”

In terms of numbers, Jacobsen says that if the plan is outlined as the team has stated in the infographic below, it could prevent the deaths of 63,000 Americans and financial costs of US$3.3trn in costs due to carbon emissions.

US renewable energy infographic

Solar farm image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic