Mark Jacobson, director of the atmosphere/energy program at Stanford University, has developed roadmaps for 143 countries to meet 100% of their energy demand from power generated by wind, water, and sunlight. In every case, these roadmaps promise major reductions in energy costs, while mitigating the effects of climate change and air pollution. pv magazine checked in with Jacobson for a look at the energy transition’s bigger picture. The first article I published was back in 2009 in Scientific American. At the time utilities didn’t think much more than 20% renewables on the grid was possible, and when we proposed to go to 100%, people laughed at us. Since then, everything has changed. There is a lot more discussion as to how we can get to 100% renewables, and whether the costs will go up. In the U.S. we now have around 24% renewable electricity. So, we are about 8% to 9% of the way there in terms of how far we need to go to get to 100% renewables for all energy, not just electricity, in the country. There has been this huge growth of wind and solar, and now beginning with battery storage and electric vehicles as well. In the building sector people are starting to talk about more laws being passed to ensure new buildings are energy efficient and all electric. Heavy industries and air and ship transport are also starting to electrify. There is a lot of good news, but we still need very aggressive policies to be put in place to ensure that rapid transition – at least 80% by 2030, and 100% by 2050. I think that the biggest obstacles right now are competing interests, all of these technologies being proposed that are actually much less helpful than renewables – so carbon capture, new nuclear power, bio energy, direct air capture, geoengineering. All of these things are basically opportunity costs and distractions from real solutions.
PV Magazine 10th July 2021 read more »