March 18, 2016
MILAN – A dream, an idea, maybe a possibility. Having a society that is 100% fuelled by renewable energy sources isn’t a goal that is reserved for small or technologically advanced countries, but is an attainable aim for all countries. Mark Jacobson and Mark Delucchi, two researchers from the University of Stanford, are convinced of this fact after looking at every single country to find the optimum energy mix in order to present it at the next COP 21 conference in Paris. Globally, in order to reach the“100 percent” goal countries should obtain 19.4% of energy from onshore wind farms, 12.9% from offshore wind farms, 42.2% from photovoltaic systems, 5.6% from solar panels, 7.7% from concentrated solar power, 4.8% from hydroelectricity and 1.47% fromgeothermal, wave and tidal power.
The recipe for Italy
In contrast, the “recipe” for Italy involves a large supply from photovoltaic systems, specifically over 65%, and around 11% from wind farms. Around 22 million jobs would be created worldwide under this scheme, net of those lost in the fossil fuel industry. In addition, 3.3 to 4.6 million premature pollution-related deaths could be prevented. This system would make any emissions agreements unnecessary, and nuclear power plants could also be retired. “People often do not know what we could achieve,” explains Mark Jacobson. “However, these numbers are what gets people’s attention.” The researchers also calculated how close each country is to the goal. Norway is currently closest with 67% renewable energy, followed by Paraguay, the only other country with over 50% renewables. Italy comes in at 27th place, while at the bottom of the rankings are fossil fuel ‘superpowers’ such as Oman and Qatar, Singapore and, in last place with 0%, Trinidad and Tobago.
The “Solutions Project”
The researchers are about to publish the results for the USA on PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) and highlight one way to overcome the issue of the inconsistency of sources such as wind or solar power: instead of using batteries, which increase costs, it’s better to focus on ensuring a smart mix so that one source can compensate for the shortcomings of the others. The “Solutions Project” developed by the researchers has convinced several well-known philanthropists who have pledged their support for the cause, from Elon Musk’s foundation to Leonardo DiCaprio’s foundation.
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