According to new research from US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), green energy can affordably replace fossil fuel as the world’s primary source of electricity within 20 years.
This research adds to other studies that also support the feasibility of replacing fossil fuels with renewable sources of energy. In 2011, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report which indicates that nearly 80 percent of global energy demand could be met by renewable sources of energy by 2050. Research published in 2009 by Mark Z. Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi also supports the contention that renewable energy can replace fossil fuels, as does research published in 2010 by Robert Howarth.
As reported in the Vancouver Sun, the new 2012 research from NOAA debunks critics claims that the emissions attributable to uneven power production from renewable sources of power of power offer only nominal reductions in greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil fuels.
A director with at NOAA said that wind and solar could supply 70 per cent of electricity demand in the lower 48 states, with fossil fuel and hydro/nuclear renewables each accounting for just 15 per cent by 2030.
Sandy MacDonald, director of the earth system research lab at NOAA, presented the research at a symposium of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual convention.
NOAA embarked on the renewable energy project three years ago, collating 16 billion pieces of weather data derived from satellite observations and airplane observations and weather station reports.Then it designed a program to filter the information to remove unlikely venues for wind or solar power arrays – such as national parks and urban areas – and came up with a map showing robust wind resources in the middle of the continent and decent ones in the northeast Atlantic states, as well as strong solar production areas in the desert southwest.
NOAA took the research a step further and considered how best to balance potential power production with electricity demand. Their research revealed the bigger the grid, the more effective it can be at transitioning to green energy, MacDonald said. An optimal system would encompass coordinated energy generation and transmission over an area of five million square kilometres.
© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
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