Solar energy could play the most important role in Californian energy. Image via The Leaf Exchange.

A new study conducted by Stanford Researchers demonstrates a practical “roadmap” for converting California’s all-purpose energy infrastructure over to renewable sources by 2050. The paper proposes running the state on a mixture of wind, water and sunlight (WWS).

To make things even more interesting, the paper does it all with available technologies – of course, it is extremely likely that as years pass, renewable energy technology will become cheaper and more effective, which makes this paper even more admirable – California could go 100% renewable with today’s technology! The paper also takes into consideration population growth and other likely social trends.

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Lead author Mark Z Jacobson, has previously outlined similar proposals on a global level; he explained how most (or, with a lot of effort, all) of civilization could switch to renewables in two decades. Now, on this analysis on California, he provides an explanation in much more detail, almost like a step-by-step how-to guide. In his vision, he rules out fossil fuels, nuclear energy, and biofuels – which are increasingly considered as a not-really renewable source of energy.

In the end, he concludes that the best solution would be a melange of renewables – solar would be the key for sunny California, providing 55 percent of the state’s energy. Wind would be the other major energy source, at 35 percent. Together, they would provide 90 percent of the state’s energy requirement, the rest being contributed by geothermal (5 percent), hidro (4 percent), and tidal energy (1 percent).

He also explains that in the long term, this would create 220.000 more jobs than in fossil fuels. eliminate between 3,800 and 23,200 premature deaths a year attributable to air pollution, and avoid the associated health system costs to the tune of between $31 billion to $232 billion per annum. Taking into consideration all these factors, the initial investment would be quickly recovered.

 “The California air-pollution health plus global climate cost benefits from eliminating California emissions could equal the $1.1 trillion installation cost of 603 GW of new power needed for a 100% all-purpose WWS system within ~7 (4–14) years.”

Scientific Reference: A roadmap for repowering California for all purposes with wind, water, and sunlight.