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"Based on our findings, there are no technological or economic barriers to converting the entire world to clean, renewable energy sources," said Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering. "It is a question of whether we have the societal and political will."
The world they envision would run largely on electricity. Their plan calls for using wind, water and solar energy to generate power, with wind and solar power contributing 90 percent of the needed energy. Geothermal and hydroelectric sources would each contribute about 4 percent in their plan (70 percent of the hydroelectric is already in place), with the remaining 2 percent from wave and tidal power.
Vehicles, ships and trains would be powered by electricity and hydrogen fuel cells. Aircraft would run on liquid hydrogen. Homes would be cooled and warmed with electric heaters – no more natural gas or coal – and water would be preheated by the sun. Commercial processes would be powered by electricity and hydrogen. In all cases, the hydrogen would be produced from electricity.
Thus, wind, water and sun would power the world. The researchers approached the conversion with the goal that by 2030, all new energy generation would come from wind, water and solar, and by 2050, all pre-existing energy production would be converted as well.
One of the benefits of the plan is that it results in a 30 percent reduction in world energy demand since it involves converting combustion processes to electrical or hydrogen fuel cell processes. Electricity is much more efficient than combustion.
That reduction in the amount of power needed, along with the millions of lives saved by the reduction in air pollution from elimination of fossil fuels, would help keep the costs of the conversion down. "When you actually account for all the costs to society – including medical costs – of the current fuel structure, the costs of our plan are relatively similar to what we have today," Jacobson said.
The controversial new drilling operation for natural shale gas in Lancashire has been suspended following a second earthquake in the area that may have been triggered by the process. The earthquake last Friday near Blackpool occurred at the same time that the energy company Cuadrilla Resources was injecting fluids under high pressure deep underground to deliberately blast apart the gas-bearing rock – a process known as "fracking", brought to Britain from the US, where it has been highly contentious.
LONDON (SHARECAST) - Germany's decision to exit all of its nuclear power plants marks a clear win for renewable energy, according to Matrix, which highlights a number of UK companies that could benefit.
The decision by the German government to close all its nuclear plant by 2022 is a strong long-term positive for renewable generally," said analyst Adam Forsyth.
He notes that if this move prompts greater activity in North Sea offshore wind operations, it could lead to lower costs, which could help London-listed energy groups Centrica and Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE). Drax’s biomass ambitions could also benefit as “as the attractions of a baseload non-nuclear option increase in the eyes of UK policymakers.”