Earth is rapidly approaching 1.5 ° C warming, air pollution kills more than 7 million people worldwide every year, and declining fossil fuels predict social instability. But recently, during the United Nations Madrid climate talks, world leaders have not agreed on a path forward. At the heart of the problem is the belief of some leaders that solving global warming will be expensive and the economy of their country will drain. However, new research indicates that this belief is incorrect. Solving the problems is much cheaper and creates many more jobs than not solving them and keeping the light on at the same time. This result has been learned from a scientific study that I and colleagues published on December 20 in the scientific journal One Earth.
In that study, we developed Green New Deal route maps for each of 143 countries, representing 99.7% of man-made CO2 emissions. The plans include the transition from the universal energy of each country (electricity, transport, heating and cooling of buildings, industry, etc.) to 100% clean, renewable electricity and heat that is supplied by wind, water and solar energy (WWS) ) after accounting for energy efficiency.
In this new paradigm we will use vehicles with electric and hydrogen fuel cells instead of vehicles with fossil fuel or biofuels; electric heat pumps for air and water heating instead of gas, oil or wood heating; electric ovens instead of fossil fuels; and electric induction hobs instead of gas hobs. The electricity will come from wind turbines, solar panels, concentrated solar power stations, hydroelectric power stations, geothermal power stations, tidal turbines and wave equipment. Building heat will come from solar and geothermal heat and electric heat pumps. We also need storage for electricity, heat, cold and hydrogen. To prevent a warming of 1.5 ° C, at least 80% of the transition must take place no later than 2030 and 100% no later than 2050.
95% of the technologies required – electrical appliances, vehicles and machines; electricity and heat generators; and storage devices – already exist. The main exceptions are heavy long-haul aircraft and ships, which we believe can feed hydrogen fuel cells and some batteries by 2030 to 2040.
We not only developed plans for each country, we also divided the 143 countries into 24 world regions and tested whether the electricity grid can remain stable in every region with a 100% wind, water and solar system. This is important because the biggest concern that people have to go to variable wind and solar energy is whether the lights stay on. We have established that 100% WWS can indeed make the light burn worldwide for everything. Here you can find summaries of what a reliable 100% WWS system could look like in every region and between all regions of the world.
The conclusions found here on network stability with fully renewable energy correspond to those from dozens of other studies and the fact that 10 countries are keeping their lights on, although they are already near or above 100 percent WWS in their electricity sector. These countries include Iceland, Norway, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bhutan, Tajikistan, Albania, Kenya and Scotland. Most are primarily powered by hydropower, but Kenya is powered primarily by geothermal energy and Scotland primarily powered by wind.
One of the most important results of our research is that WWS reduces energy requirements worldwide by 57%. This is due to the efficiency of electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles over fossil fuel vehicles; the efficiency of electric heat pumps over heating fossil fuels; the efficiency of the electrified industry over the fossil fuel industry; eliminating energy to extract, transport and refine fossil fuels, biofuels and uranium; and modest improvements in energy efficiency that go beyond those in a fossil fuel economy.
This large reduction in energy demand is important because, together with a slight reduction in WWS energy costs per unit of energy compared to fossil fuels, it reduces energy costs for all purposes worldwide by an astounding 61% (from $ 17.7 to $ 6.8 trillion a year in 2050). Because WWS eliminates nearly 7 million deaths a year and emissions caused by global warming, it also reduces social costs (energy plus health plus climate costs) worldwide by an even larger 91% (from $ 76.1 to $ 6.8 trillion) per year).
The capital required in advance for this global transition (which is spread over 30 years) is approximately $ 73 trillion. However, these costs are recovered in about 7 years due to the annual saving of $ 11 trillion in energy costs due to WWS on fossil fuels. In the United States, the capital cost of the Green New Deal is $ 7.8 trillion. In Europe it is $ 6.2 trillion. In China this is more than $ 16 trillion.
WWS creates 28.6 million more long-term full-time jobs than is lost worldwide, including 3.1 million in the United States, 2.9 million in Europe and more than 8.5 million in China. It only needs 0.65% of the world’s land, of which two-thirds is space between wind turbines that can be used for multiple purposes.
Finally, WWS eliminates most of the 7 million deaths from air pollution per year, reduces energy insecurity and eliminates energy emissions that cause global warming. Along with policies that tackle non-energy emissions, a Green New Deal will slow global warming and then reverse it.
In short, WWS needs less energy, costs less and creates more jobs than current energy. What is not nice about it? A transition to WWS improves the quality of life and solves three major problems worldwide. It is really a Green Good Deal. The key is to deploy, deploy, deploy as quickly as possible.
Mark Z. Jacobson
Professor of Civil Engineering and Environment
Mark Z. Jacobson Mark Z. Jacobson is director of the Atmosphere / Energy Program and professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University. He is also a senior fellow of the Woods Institute for the Environment and of the Precourt Institute for Energy. He received a B.S. in Civil Engineering, an A.B. in Economics, and a M.S. in Environmental Engineering
Stanford in 1988. He received an M.S. and PhD in Atmospheric Sciences in 1991 and 1994 respectively, from UCLA and joined the faculty at Stanford in 1994. He has published two study books from two editions and more than 155 peer-reviewed journal articles. He received the 2005 AMS Henry G. Houghton Award and the 2013 AGU Ascent Award for his work on the effects of climate change on black carbon and the 2013 Global Green Policy Design Award for developing national energy plans. In 2015, he received a Cozzarelli prize from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences for his work on grid integration of 100% wind, water and solar energy systems. He was a member of an advisory committee of the US Secretary of
Energie, appeared in a TED talk, appeared on the David Letterman Show to discuss the conversion of the world to clean energy and was a co-founder of The Solutions Project (www.thesolutionsproject.org).