Really? Power New York 100% with renewables?

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Quick Take:  Who should we believe? Some observers think we'll see a slowdown in renewable energy in the U.S., because natural gas is so cheap here that it provides a more cost-effective alternative. Others claim we can power the world 100% with renewables. But since that is too tall a task, advocates are taking a state-by-state approach. The latest plan tackles the job of powering New York State. - By Jesse Berst

 

Environmental experts such as Stanford University's Mark Z. Jacobson are offering new plans to power New York entirely with renewable energy by the year 2030.

 

"The technologies we're focusing on are the cleanest, and therefore the most sustainable, in terms of improving human health, reducing climate impacts, reducing water supply impacts, but also providing energy-price stability," Jacobson said in an interview. "The fuels we're looking at, like wind and sunlight, have zero cost, and as a result, the only costs really are the installation costs."

 

A plan for New York

In a just-released report, Jacobson and co-authors at Cornell University and the University of California, Davis, map out how New York could transition to wind, water and solar power by 2030. The plan calls for thousands of offshore wind turbines, +5.5 million rooftop solar systems, plus a bundle of other renewables such as geothermal, wave power and hydro.

Jacobson and his team previously issued a detailed transition plan for California and will eventually produce them for all 50 states. In 2009, he issued a proposal to power 100% of the planet with renewables. Columbia University's Vasilis Fthenakis published a similar plan for the U.S. in Scientific American in January 2013.

Jacobson believes the obstacles lie mainly in vested political interests.

"There are a lot of industries that look unfavorably upon this plan, because they don't benefit from it," he said.

 

Jesse Berst is the founder and Chief Analyst of SGN and Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition.

 

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