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World can rely on 100% clean power

There are a variety of solutions to move 139 countries to 100% renewable energy – which is stable and reliable – by 2050, according to new research.

Innovators Magazine reported last year that Stanford’s Mark Jacobson and his team had developed a roadmap for doing this. Now he – along with others from the University of California, Berkeley, and Aalborg University in Denmark, have demonstrated how marrying the tech and proper planning can also ‘avoid blackouts’.

Using ‘two computational modeling programs’, they calculated if more weather-variable energy sources, like rooftop solar and wind, could be balanced out by more reliable power, such as geothermal. And they did so, not by looking at supply and demand in an annual context, as per the previous study, which did so with 139 countries grouped into 20 regions. They did it in ’30-second increments for 5 years (2050-2054) to account for the variability in wind and solar power as well as the variability in demand over hours and seasons’.

And it showed that blackouts could be avoided across all 20 world regions during this period, under the three storage scenarios used. The research also revealed that the costs would be lower by about a quarter compared to current energy pathways.

Jacobson said: “Based on these results, I can more confidently state that there is no technical or economic barrier to transitioning the entire world to 100% clean, renewable energy with a stable electric grid at low cost. This solution would go a long way toward eliminating global warming and the 4 million to 7 million air pollution-related deaths that occur worldwide each year, while also providing energy security.”

And he said that cross-border political cooperation will be key to realising these goals.

“Ideally, you’d have cooperation in deciding where you’re going to put the wind farms, where you’re going to put the solar panels, where you’re going to put the battery storage,” added Jacobson. “The whole system is most efficient when it is planned ahead of time as opposed to done one piece at a time.”

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