US: 100% conversion to wind, water and solar power by 2050 feasible, PV to account for 38%

The findings of the study, "100% clean and renewable wind, water, and sunlight (WWS) all-sector energy roadmaps for the 50 United States," published in the journal of Energy & Environmental Science, urge the U.S. to convert 80 to 85% of its all-purpose energy systems to ones powered by WWS by 2030, and 100% by 2050.

"…Conversions are technically and economically feasible with little downside," write the research team, led by Mark Z. Jacobson, a Stanford University professor, which adds, "These roadmaps may therefore reduce social and political barriers to implementing clean-energy policies."

Furthermore, the researchers say that the conversion to WWS – onshore wind, offshore wind, utility-scale PV, rooftop PV, CSP with storage, geothermal, wave, tidal and hydro – should stabilize energy prices, since fuel costs will be eliminated. They calculate that each person in the U.S. could save an average of US$260 annually, with individual U.S. health and global climate costs decreasing by an average of $1,500 and $8,300 per year, respectively. Minimal land is also required for the conversion.

Solar’s contribution

Solar PV and concentrated solar power (CSP), combined, could account for over 45% of power generation in the U.S. in 2050. PV alone could account for 38%, comprising 4% residential rooftop, 3.2% commercial/government rooftop and 30.8% utility-scale.

To meet these goals, the study says 75 million new residential rooftop PV systems would need to be installed, and 46,480 utility-scale plants. See table below for further information:

Energy technology

Rated power one plant (MW)

% of 2050 all-purpose load met by plant

Nameplate capacity of existing plus new plants (MW)

% nameplate capacity already installed 2013

No. of new plants needed for U.S.

% of U.S. land area for footprint of new plants

% of U.S. land area for spacing of new plants

Residential roof PV

0.005

3.98

379,500

0.94

75,190,000

0.03070

0

Com/gov roof PV

0.1

3.24

276,500

0.64

2,747,000

0.02243

0

Solar PV plant

50

30.73

2,326,000

0.08

46,480

0.18973

0

Utility CSP plant

100

7.30

227,300

0

2,273

0.12313

0

Between 356,940 and 3.6 million jobs could be created in the solar PV industry alone, continues the study. Overall, it calculates that 100% conversion to WWS by 2050 would create between 876,275 and 4.8 million jobs, while job losses from the fossil fuel and nuclear energy sectors would total 3.9 million.

Costs

The researchers also estimated fully annualized levelised business costs for WWS electric power generators versus non-WWS conventional fuel generators, taking into account both low cost, high benefit (LCHB) and high cost low benefit (HCLB) scenarios. See the table below for their cost assumptions for solar PV in 2050:

Technology year 2013 (US$/kWh delivered)

Technology year 2050 (US$/kWh delivered)

Technology

LCHB

HCLB

Average

LCHB

HCLB

Average

PV utility crystalline tracking

0.073

0.107

0.090

0.061

0.091

0.076

PV utility crystalline fixed

0.078

0.118

0.098

0.063

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *