What would it take to power the entire U.S. economy on renewable resources alone?
Three big things:
- Only build wind, solar, or hydro power plants after 2020
- Reduce energy use compared to business as usual by 40%
- Electrify everything
It’s the last that may be the most complicated, since it means a complete overhaul of way we do everything from heating homes to moving people. Mark Jacobson, author of a seminal study on the transformation, doesn’t mince words about its complexity:
The recommendations — indeed, all 28 — would require coordinated action from Congress, federal agencies, state legislatures, and local officials. Together, they represent an unprecedented level of government activism, a skein of incentives, mandates, standards, and laws unmatched in U.S. history.
This timeline illustrates the challenge of electrification:
Want the whole story in short? I gave this summary presentation of the challenge to a group of clean energy allies in late August 2015. 100% renewable in 15 slides.
Hat tip to David Roberts for making this data accessible, and to Mark Jacobson at Stanford for the deep dive into how it can happen. I’m just here for the visual flair.
Photo credit: author unknown