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Stanford researchers have found that it’s “technically and economically” feasible to move California to an entirely clean energy system by 2050, using existing renewable sources like wind, water and sunlight.
Published in Energy this week, the study concluded that the upfront capital costs would be more than offset by lower energy expenses. Bonus points: It could add 220,000 “manufacturing, installation and technology construction and operation jobs,” cut energy demand by around 44 percent, and eliminate billions in health costs linked to pollution.
“If implemented, this plan will eliminate air pollution mortality and global warming emissions from California, stabilize prices and create jobs — there is little downside,” said Mark Jacobson, a Stanford professor of civil and environmental engineering, in a statement.
A couple points of context: California’s landmark global warming law, AB 32, only aims to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. And at least one earlier study found that even that goal can’t be achieved with existing sustainable technologies.
The 2011 report by the California Council on Science and Technology stated that reaching that threshold will necessitate “intensive and sustained investment in new technologies.”
So, to be safe, Golden State, let’s roll out existing sustainable technology as rapidly as possible and invest heavily in energy research and development.