Latest Study Reveals Possible End of Fossil Fuels by 2030
A new study projects that we could achieve 100% reliance on renewable energy by the year 2030. Sound impossible? The latest researchers for the renewable energy journal, Energy Policy, beg to differ, claiming that renewable technologies available now could entirely power our electric grid system in only two decades. As hopeful as this may be, the numbers involved are rather staggering, yet exciting nonetheless.
Four million 5 mega-watt (MW) wind turbines; 1.7 billion 3 kW roof-mounted, photovoltaic solar systems; and approximately 90,000 300 MW solar plants would be necessary to achieve 100% reliance on renewable energy in twenty years. What's more, the current distribution infrastructure would need to be drastically improved. The research predicts that tidal and geothermal energy would provide the base load, and then wind and solar power would be used when those sources peak. Transportation, of course, would also have to rely entirely on battery and renewable fuels.
A vast amount of building would be necessary for all this to be a reality. For instance, the wind turbines required would have to be two to three times the capacity of the majority of today's wind turbines. Nevertheless, in 2006, Germany built five MW offshore turbines, and China built their first in 2010. In regards to the solar power plants, a mix of photovoltaic panel plants as well as concentrated solar plants (those that concentrate solar energy to boil water to drive generators) would be needed. Currently, only a few dozen such facilities exist.
When computing their calculations, author of the report, Mark Delucchi, and his colleague, Mark Jacobson, concentrated solely on wind, solar, tidal, and geothermal sources - absolutely no fossil fuels or biomass. As it stands, 80% of the world's energy supply relies on fossil fuels. And while biomass is currently the most widely used renewable energy source, Delucchi and Jacobson excluded it from their report because of its implications for pollution and land-use concerns.
Climate change is scientifically considered a dire reality despite its controversy. And unfortunately, our current political economy will probably not endorse such a drastic change, but what's impressive is the sheer fact that 100% renewable energy reliance is a possibility.