windMarch 1st, 2016 by

Originally published on

What would it take to power the entire US economy on renewable resources alone?

Three big things:

  1. Only build wind, solar, or hydro power plants after 2020
  2. Reduce energy use compared to business as usual by 40%
  3. Electrify everything

It’s the last that may be the most complicated, since it means a complete overhaul of the way we do everything from heating homes to moving people. Mark Jacobson, author of a seminal study on the transformation, doesn’t mince words about its complexity:

The recommendations — indeed, all 28 — would require coordinated action from Congress, federal agencies, state legislatures, and local officials. Together, they represent an unprecedented level of government activism, a skein of incentives, mandates, standards, and laws unmatched in U.S. history.

This timeline illustrates the challenge of electrification: