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Published on January 2nd, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan


Science Smackdown: Key Points On Renewable & EV Revolution From Mark Z Jacobson

January 2nd, 2014 by  

I just recently ran across this video below. I actually shared it not long after it was published, but that was a year and a half ago. The video includes excellent talks by Mark Z Jacobson, Mark Ruffalo, and Marco Krapels. The portion of Mark Jacobcson’s presentation on why we need cleantech is perhaps the best I’ve seen on that topic, but I’m not going to highlight that part today — watch the full talk (embedded at the bottom of this post) if you want to see that. In this article, I just want to highlight some of the cleantech and energy points that I think need to be spread much further. They address numerous myths and misunderstandings that I see pop up repeatedly in comments on our articles and elsewhere. For each point, I’ll link to the place in the video where Mark starts talking about that topic, so that you can share those links with others any time you run into such a need. (By the way, in case you aren’t aware, Mark Jacobson is director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program at Stanford — a position you don’t get without doing tremendous scientific research — as well as a professor of civil and environmental engineering there.)

Wind, Water, & Sun: Best Overall Solution To Global Warming, Deadly Pollution, Reliable Energy Needs, and Disaster Protection

Battery-Electric Vehicles Are The Key Transportation Solution: 4–5 times more efficient than internal combustion (gasoline) engines for powering your car. “The best way to reduce your energy consumption is to use an electric vehicle.” (Note: better would actually be a bike or your own two feet, but if you’re going to use a car, an electric car is best.)

Why Not Nuclear: 9–25 times more pollution per kWh than wind; risk of meltdown (1.5% of nuclear reactors to date have melted down to some degree); risk of nuclear weapons proliferation; unresolved waste issues.

Why Not Clean Coal: 50 times more CO2 emissions per kWh than wind; 150 times more air pollutant emissions than wind per kWh; requires ~25% more energy, thus ~25% more coal mining, transport, and related pollution than normal coal.

Why Not Ethanol: Same or more air pollution as from gasoline (from corn and cellulosic ethanol); Corn E85 = 90–200% CO2 emissions of gasoline; Cellulosic E85 = 50–150%  CO2 emissions of gasoline; wind–BEVs = <1% CO2 emissions of gasoline; enormous land and water use requirements for ethanol.

Why Not Natural Gas: At least 50–70 times more CO2 and air pollution per kWh than wind power; hydrofracking causes land and water degradation; methane leaks a leading cause of Arctic ice loss over next 20 years.

Wind, Water, Solar Rocks: Would reduce world energy use from 12.5 TW in 2010 to 11.5 TW in 2030 (compared to 16.9 TW with current fuel mix). Aim: 50% wind, 20% solar PV, 20% CSP, 4% hydro (70% in place today), 4% geothermal, 1% wave, 1% tidal.

Powering 100% of US Onroad Vehicles: cellulosic E85 versus corn E85 versus nuclear+BEVs versus wind+BEVs versus solar+BEVs versus geothermal+BEVs. Solar & wind + BEVs = great solution.

Tremendous wind & solar resources could power the world dozens of times over.

Can wind, solar, and water really match electricity supply with demand when it’s needed? Yes.

What about key resources needed? Have ~7 times more neodymium than we need for wind; with current known resources, need have enough lithium for about 3.3 billion vehicles, have about 800 million vehicles on the roads at the moment.

What about cost? WWS much cheaper than current mix even with a minimum estimate for externalities.

Summary: WWS solution would eliminate 2.5 to 3 million air pollution deaths; eliminate global warming; provide energy stability; and be much cheaper than the current energy mix. Land requirements = 0.4% and 0.6% for spacing. (Currently, about 40% of the world’s land is used for cropland and pasture for grazing.)

If you’re into Mark’s totally stat-filled presentation, share this! If you’re into the WWS solution, head on over to The Solutions Project and sign on to help out.

Here’s a super quick summary of The Solutions Project: “In June of 2010, a scientist, an actor, a banker and a filmmaker were sitting around a table discussing their opposition to the current methods of extreme energy extraction. This brought on an important realization – it’s not enough to simply be against something. The answer lies in the solution to the problem. That day, Mark Jacobson, Mark Ruffalo, Marco Krapels and Josh Fox gave birth to The Solutions Project. Our Mission: Use the powerful combination of science + business + culture to accelerate the transition to 100% renewable energy.”

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. He's also the CEO of Important Media. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA] — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in this company and feels like it is a good cleantech company to invest in. But he offers no investment advice and does not recommend investing in Tesla or any other company.

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