B_0111_ATM_alternative

Could the World be Powered by Alternative Energy?

Jan. 28, 2011

A study coauthored by Standford researcher Mark Z. Jacobson states that the world could be powered by today’s existing alternative energy solutions within the next 20 to 40 years, with societal and political support.


A study coauthored by Stanford researcher Mark Z. Jacobson states that the world could be powered by today’s existing alternative energy solutions within the next 20 to 40 years, with societal and political support.

Jacobson and Mark Delucchi, University of California-Davis, have written a document in Energy Policy determining the costs, technology, and material requirements of converting the planet to run on an alternative energy system.

This vision consists of a world running largely on electricity, utilizing wind, solar, and water energy to generate power.  Wind and solar solutions would provide 90% of the energy.

"We wanted to quantify what is necessary in order to replace all the current energy infrastructure – for all purposes – with a really clean and sustainable energy infrastructure within 20 to 40 years," says Jacobson.

Since electricity is much more efficient than combustion, a 30% reduction in world energy demand overall would occur with the conversion of combustion processes to electrical or hydrogen fuel cell processes.

The biggest challenge to overcome in this switch to alternative energy is the variability factor – wind and solar energy can be highly variable, which has raised doubts about the reliability of the energy sources.

But Jacobson says that the variance can be overcome, as wind and solar power are complementary.  Geothermal and tidal power could be used to supplement the wind and solar sources.

This project to transform the earth to an alternative energy plan is no small endeavor.

"This really involves a large scale transformation," says Jacobson. "It would require an effort comparable to the Apollo moon project or constructing the interstate highway system.  But it is possible, without even having to go to new technologies; we really need to just decide collectively that this is the direction we want to head as a society."

Energy Savinvs vs. Energy Waste: Which one Motivates You?

Streamline Green Permitting

Gound-Breaking Alternative Energy Options

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Buildings, create an account today!

Sponsored Recommendations

Building Better Schools

Download this digital resource to better understand the challenges and opportunities in designing and operating educational facilities for safety, sustainability, and performance...

Tips to Keep Facility Management on Track

How do you plan to fill the knowledge gap as seasoned facility managers retire or leave for new opportunities? Learn about the latest strategies including FM tech innovations ...

The Beauty & Benefits of Biophilic Design in the Built Environment

Biophilic design is a hot trend in design, but what is it and how can building professionals incorporate these strategies for the benefits of occupants? This eHandbook offers ...

The Benefits of Migrating from Analog to DMR Two-Way Radios

Are you still using analog two-way radios? Download this white paper and discover the simple and cost-effective migration path to digital DMR radios that deliver improved audio...