In this exclusive interview for Freedom Fight Info, Mark Z. Jacobson, professor at Stanford University, talks about concrete solutions for climate changes and about alternatives to technology that is threatening the very life on earth as we know it.
By Milan Srećković
The conversion has started, but at a much slower pace than is needed to make the conversion complete within 20-40 years. For example, last year in the U.S., about 50% of all new electric power was from wind plus solar. However, we need more than 99% to be clean energy annually to make the changes needed, and the changes need to occur in all sectors, not just electric power. Conversions are needed in the electricity, transportation, heating/cooling, and industrial sectors. All combustion would be converted to electricity or electricity-generated hydrogen for all purposes. Conversion in transportation is probably most important from a health perspective.
How available are necessary technical conditions to switch to clean energy and could you address the concern that there isn’t going to be enough energy from alternative sources.
The resources are available. There is 6-7 times more wind in high-wind locations over land and 30 times more solar in high-solar locations over land than needed to power the world for all purposes each on their own. All the technologies we would use exist today.
What are the costs of making and maintaining of equipment for producing alternative energy, are they going to be lesser than now in terms of economics and in terms of ecological footprint?
As the energy infrastructure converts to WWS (wind, water, and solar), the energy used to produce the infrastructure will also become cleaner. Unlike fossil fuels, WWS electric power technologies have zero fuel costs; only capital and operations/maintenance costs, so once they are build, the price of electricity from them should remain relatively stable (or rise only slowly). On the other hand, fossil fuels have continuously rising fuel prices. For this reason, states with the highest percent of their electric power from wind from 2003-2011 experienced only a 2 cent/kWh increase in residential electricity price, whereas all other states saw an increase of 3.6 cents/kWh.
How much renewable energy sources are in use today?
Renewable energy is growing surprisingly fast. In 2012, 25% of all Iowa’s electric power and 24.5% of all South Dakota’s electric power came from wind. Wind was the largest new source of electric power installed capacity in the U.S. in 2012. Solar was tied for third with coal. Wind and solar are the largest new sources of electric power generally in Europe the last several years.
Is the profit from oil, coal and nuclear energy main reason for corporations to just give up exploitation of fossil fuels?
Probably, but we think the solution lies with policy makers who can encourage the growth of WWS technologies while discouraging the growth of fossil fuels. Many people have the political will, but there is a lot of opposition from vested interests. Lobbyists from current energy sources still have a lot of power to limit implementation of clean energy sources. Citizens need to vote in policy makers who are willing to make changes. Citizens can also make changes on their own, including purchasing solar or small-scale wind, electric cars, electric air source heat pumps/air conditioners, LED lights, weather-stripping, etc. I think that as WWS energy prices continue to decline, the conversion will occur faster and faster.
United States signed but did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol aimed at reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. Can you comment on this?
Those were policies that mandated reductions in CO2 without identifying how to do this, and many in the U.S. didn’t believe CO2 was a problem. Our plan is to repower the energy infrastructure with WWS, which will accomplish much more than just CO2 reduction (by reducing air pollution and providing energy stability and jobs as well). It stays away from the politics of CO2 and focuses on currently-existing economic technologies.
What about nuclear power and bio diesel?
Nuclear emits 9-25 times more pollution and greenhouse gases per kWh generated than wind, results in nuclear weapons proliferation risk, nuclear meltdown risk, and hazardous waste risk. Bio diesel causes similar air pollution as regular diesel and 50-150% of the greenhouse gas emissions of regular diesel in the lifecycle, including upstream. The footprint on the ground is 30 times that of the spacing area of wind and over a million times the footprint area of wind to produce the same energy for driving electric vehicles. Water requirements for biodiesel are also significant.
To cut the long story short, is alternative energies solution for preserving of life on Earth?
Yes, definitely. Converting to 100% WWS for all purposes will decrease air pollution mortality by 2.5-3 million premature deaths per year, eliminate global warming emissions, and provide energy stability.
Mark Z. Jacobson is professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University and director of its Atmosphere and Energy Program. Jacobson develops computer models about the effects of different energy technologies and their emissions on air pollution and climate. In 2009 Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi published “A Plan to Power 100 Percent of the Planet With Renewables” in Scientific American.