By Jesse Wood
Is it really feasible to power the entire world with renewable energy by 2030?
According to Mark Jacobson, professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, and Mark Delucchi, research scientist at the Institute of Transportation Studies at University of California–Davis, it is.
“Based on our findings there are no technological or economic barriers to converting the entire world to clean energy,” Jacobson said in Science Daily. “It is a question of whether we have the societal and political will.”
Last December, Delucchi and Jacobson co-authored a two-part study in Energy Policy journal outlining a detailed plan to power the entire world with renewable energy produced from the sun, wind and ocean.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, total global power consumed at any given moment is 12.5 trillion watts (terawatts or TW); and in 2030 global power consumption is estimated to increase to 16.9 TW. But if fossil fuel usage and biomass combustion (byproducts of plant and wood matter) were to be eliminated, global power demand would decrease to just 11.5 TW by 2030.
According to Delucchi and Jacobson, the entire world could be powered with the following renewable energy:
3,800,000 5MW wind turbines
49,000 300 MW concentrated solar plants
40,000 300 MW solar PV polar plants
1.7 billion 3 kW rooftop PV systems
5,350 100 MW geothermal power plants
270 new 1300 MW hydroelectric power plants
720,000 0.75 MW wave devices
490,000 1 MW tidal turbines
For Delucchi and Jacobson’s estimates to work, the world needs to power transportation with electricity or hydrogen rather than gasoline, because 80% of energy produced from gasoline is wasted through heat, whereas only 20% is lost through electricity.
According to Delucchi and Jacobson, powering the world through renewable energies by 2030 is a monumental task, but its scale is similar to past government projects.
“This really involves a large-scale transformation,” Jacobson said in the Science Daily. “It would require an effort comparable to the Apollo moon project or construction of the interstate highway system.”