A new study out of Stanford and UC says that we can power all the world's energy needs through wind, water and solar power - and that it could be done by 2030, for less than it would cost to use fossil fuel and nuclear energy sources.
How? Fossil fuel energy sources are typically inefficient - for example, in a fossil fuel burning car, up to 80% of the energy is lost as heat. The energy savings from converting to those greener energy sources, by itself, could cut the world's energy demands to two-thirds what they are today. This could eliminate the need for 13,000 coal plants worldwide, and save enough money to justify the switchover.
Of course, this plan would still require massive changes to the world's energy infrastructure: 3.8 million large wind turbines, 89,000 300-megawatt solar plants, 490,000 tidal turbines, 1.7 billion rooftop photovoltaic systems, and 900 hydroelectric plants, plus the countless new transmission lines needed to distribute so much more electricity. Only about 2% of this renewable energy infrastructure exists today.
But the researchers conclude that the biggest obstacle to these changes is actually the competing non-renewable energy industry, which currently dominates political lobbying.
[Stanford University via FastCompany]