Would it be possible to run the U.S. economy entirely on renewable energy by 2050? A team of researchers led by Dr. Mark Z. Jacobson of Stanford says yes, and lays out an ambitious and detailed state-by-state plan. Vox.com's David Roberts explains:
"The core of the plan is to electrify everything, including sectors that currently run partially or entirely on liquid fossil fuels. That means shifting transportation, heating/cooling, and industry to run on electric power.
"Electrifying everything produces an enormous drop in projected demand, since the energy-to-work conversion of electric motors is much more efficient than combustion motors, which lose a ton of energy to heat. So the amount of energy necessary to meet projected demand drops by a third just from the conversion."
The study, published in Energy & Environmental Science, also sees a role for thermal energy storage, including ice, water and phase change materials, and time-of-use electricity rates that encourage off-peak energy consumption.