Stanford study outlines path for all 50 states to be 100% renewable by 2050

Dive Brief:

  • A comprehensive plan to mitigate climate change by shifting the U.S. to 100% renewables has been developed by Stanford Professor of Engineering Mark Z. Jacobson and U.C. Berkeley researcher Mark Delucchi. It details how each of the 50 states can transition completely to renewables by 2050 and how those renewables can be grid-integrated.
  • The study, "100% clean and renewable wind, water, and sunlight (WWS) all-sector energy roadmaps for the 50 United States," examined coal, oil, gas, nuclear, and renewables usage under business-as-usual conditions and how it would change through 2050 in four sectors: residential, commercial, industrial and transportation.
  • The key assumption is that all vehicles and heating and cooling would be run by electricity. The calculation of how much generation from wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, and tidal and wave energies would be needed was based on the use of presently existing technology. A generation mix was calculated for each state based on its resources.

Dive Insight:

Electrification of transport, along with heating and cooling, reduced total end-use energy demand by 39%, with only 6% of the 39% coming from increased efficiency and the rest coming from eliminating the heat losses associated with burning fossil fuels, the study speculated

The Stanford analysis included in-depth aspects of renewables, such as how many solar-suitable rooftops a state has, whether offshore wind can be added to a state’s land-based wind resource, which states offer geothermal potential at a reasonable cost, and if efficiency upgrades are possible at existing hydroelectric dams.

Several states are well on their way to the targets. The state of Washington already gets 70% of its electricity from hydro, which is 35% of its total energy demand, and could transition to 100% with its wind and solar resources if its transportation sector was shifted to electricity.

Recommended Reading

Stanford News Service: Stanford engineers develop state-by-state plan to convert U.S. to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050; Mark Z. Jacobson and colleagues show that it's technically possible for each state to replace fossil fuel energy with entirely clean, renewable energy.
Vox: Here's what it would take for the US to run on 100% renewable energy