There Are 'No Technical Barriers' To 100 Percent Renewable Energy

Feb 10, 2019

On Wednesday on Capitol Hill two House committees held climate change hearings. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker used his appearance at the hearings to highlight the commonwealth’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Massachusetts’ 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act is one of the most ambitious state climate policies and mandates dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Now, proposed legislation sets an even more ambitious goal: 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. Federal Green New Deal legislation unveiled this past week also aims for 100 percent renewable energy by as soon as 2030.

Putting aside for the moment the political hurdles these plans face, there are technical questions here: do we have what we need to get off fossil fuels?

“There are no technical or economic barriers,” said Mark Z. Jacobson of Stanford University and The Solutions Project. “There are social and political barriers.”

Jacobson and his team have written a roadmap for how the United States and 139 other nations can get to 100 percent renewable energy in a little more than a decade.

“The key is to not build anything new with gas,” he said. “No new gasoline cars, diesel cars, diesel trucks. Electrify everything. Provide that electricity with clean renewable energy, use heat pumps for all heating of air and water and for air conditioning and refrigeration.”

Jacobson said it will take changes in the law to meet the ambitious goals in the roadmaps.

“Strong policies in place can help this transition go faster,” he said. “If we just let it go on its own… there will be a transition, but it will be a slow transition.”

Web post produced by Elsa Partan.