New research from Stanford University-based The Solution Group shows how 139 countries, including the US, China and European Union countries could go 100 percent renewables by 2050 while creating more than 24 million long-term jobs. At the same time implementing the plan would reduce air pollution-related deaths by 4 million to 7 million a year. It also would stabilize energy prices and create over $20 trillion in annual health and climate costs.
The study, conducted by Stanford's Mark Jacobson and 26 colleagues, was published in Joule. It shows what the raw renewable energy resources each country has and how each could move to 80 percent renewables by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050. The study found that only around 1 percent of the land and rooftop resources would be needed for wind, water and solar power to make the transition to pure renewable energy while reducing energy demand and cost compared to the business-as-usual scenario.
"Both individuals and governments can lead this change. Policymakers don't usually want to commit to doing something unless there is some reasonable science that can show it is possible, and that is what we are trying to do," explained Jacobson, director of Stanford University's Atmosphere and Energy Program and co-founder of the Solutions Project. "There are other scenarios. We are not saying that there is only one way we can do this, but having a scenario gives people direction."
The study found that countries with a greater share of land per capita, like the US, China and countries in the EU could make the transition to 100 percent renewables easier than countries with less land resources. Highly populated countries with little land resources and surrounded by ocean, such as Singapore will have a more difficult time transitioning. It recommended that Singapore would have to invest in offshore solar to make the move.
By converting to renewables and eliminating oil, gas and uranium use Jacobson and his group theorized that international power demand would also be cut by 13 percent because the energy needed to mine, transport and refine energy fuels would also be eliminated. “Because electricity is more efficient than burning fossil fuels, demand should go down another 23 percent,” the study found. It added that international conflicts over energy would also go down because each country could generate its own energy.
"Aside from eliminating emissions and avoiding 1.5 degrees Celsius global warming and beginning the process of letting carbon dioxide drain from the Earth's atmosphere, transitioning eliminates 4-7 million air pollution deaths each year and creates over 24 million long-term, full-time jobs by these plans," Jacobson said. "What is different between this study and other studies that have proposed solutions is that we are trying to examine not only the climate benefits of reducing carbon but also the air pollution benefits, job benefits, and cost benefits.”Tweet