Study: California could potentially run 100 percent on clean energy

According to a report published by Stanford professor Mark Jacobson, the entire state of California can function on nothing but renewable energy sources by 2050.

Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, is the head author of a newly published paper in the journal Energy  which delineates how California can satisfy all of its energy needs through a combination of solar panels and other energy-efficient means in roughly 35 years.  

"There's about a 95 percent chance that [California] will be powered by 100 percent clean energy," Jacobson told online magazine Motherboard. 

The authors of the paper propose a massive overhaul of the Golden State's energy infrastructure, which would lead to the largest conceivable reductions of pollution and the harmful effects of climate change. However, the paper does not undersell the workload involved, outlining how the construction of an immense number of renewable power generators would be needed to operate the anticipated "15 million rooftop solar installations, 25,000 wind turbines, 1,200 large-scale 100 MW solar plants, 75 geothermal plants, 5,000 wave devices, and 3,400 tidal turbines" of projected 2050 census data.

Along with a larger grid, the project also calls for a smarter one with a statewide energy source predominantly supplied by solar and wind technologies and a scant contribution from smaller applications, all of which would render coal, gas and nuclear initiatives obsolete. 

Ultimately, the ambition of installing 603 gigawatts of new clean power capacity for California would cost $1.1 trillion, a prohibitive tally at first glance but a very attainable one according to Jacobson. The professor says that the savings in clean energy would pay for the entirety of the project in seven years and that there are no true economic obstacles to it being accomplished, only political ones.

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