Cold hard science in the clean energy space has a wonderful way of debunking misinformation fueled by politics and corporate greed, and nobody does that better than the husband and wife team behind the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI). Elizabeth and Monoian and Robert Ferry have dished up an illuminating new infographic which demonstrates how much surface area is required to transition California away from energy sources that jeopardize planetary health to 100 percent renewables; take a closer look after the jump.
LAGI writes: “Starting in 2009 with the Surface Area Required to Power the World with Solar, we have been making the case that the renewable energy transition, while a huge undertaking, is not any more ambitious in scale than previous human endeavors, and that the footprint on our environment can be designed to be in harmony with nature and provide a unique benefit to human culture.”
The graphic depicts a mix of renewable energy technologies and how much land would be required to implement them – based on how much power each county currently consumes. “Much of the infrastructure can be located within our cities—on rooftops and through creative and community-owned applications in public spaces,” they write on their blog. “The rest could easily be located in the places that have already been disturbed by oil and gas extraction—the dark dots on the map.”
In other words, the transition need not absorb more land than has already been appropriated to provide California residents with energy, and it is realistic for the State to attain a 100 percent renewable energy economy by 2050.
In their study The Future of Solar Energy, MIT demonstrates that the same land use principle in California essentially applies to the entire country. LAGI wrote, “We were fascinated to learn across the entire US, the land area required to satisfy 100% of U.S. 2050 energy demand with PV would be no larger than the surface area that has already been ‘disturbed by surface mining for coal’.”
They added that given the unprecedented threat of human-induced climate change, the global community can’t afford to pursue a less rigorous stance on climate change than California has done. Indeed, they question whether even that will be enough to avert the worst effects of warming temperatures and its cascade of consequences.
“Don’t ask how much it will cost because that is the wrong question,” they said.
“What will be the cost to the children born in 2016 if we do not act now? The technology exists to begin today, and the economic stimulus effect of a WPA-scale regenerative infrastructure project for the 21st century will bestow positive benefits for generations.”