An environmental research team from the prestigious Stanford University in California has calculated exactly how Canada can move away from fossil fuels, transitioning to a totally clean-energy future through existing technologies.
But the assertion that this transition is just over a decade away is the source of hot debate.
The Solutions Project has evaluated the wind, water and solar (WWS) potential for all 50 U.S. states and 139 countries around the world, including Canada, providing data on the costs and benefits for each nation.
The goal of the group — which is backed by Hollywood heavyweights Mark Ruffalo and Leonardo DiCaprio — is to ultimately move the world toward 100-per-cent renewable energy use.
After measuring Canada’s clean-energy resources, the Stanford team says Canada can reach this goal through the following breakdown:
- 58 per cent wind.
- 22 per cent solar.
- 16 per cent hydro.
- Two per cent wave.
- Two per cent geothermal.
“That would power Canada for all purposes,” says Mark Jacobson, a co-founder of the Solutions Project and a civil and environmental engineering professor at Stanford University, in the heart of Silicon Valley.
“I feel we know it’s technically and economically possible to transition the energy infrastructure, which is built primarily on fossil fuels and nuclear power, to entirely clean, reliable and safe renewable energy,” he says.
“In all sectors — electricity, transportation, heating and cooling, agriculture, forestry and fishing — we can transition all those sectors to clean, renewable energy at reasonable cost and make it reliable and make it secure for generations to come.”
Eliminating fossil fuels
While Jacobson and the Solutions Project believe that 80 per cent of all energy will be renewable by 2030, there are some, like Stanford business professor Tony Seba, who say this could happen even faster.
Seba, whose advice has been sought in boardrooms from Tokyo to Paris, is confident that solar and wind are key to sweeping away the industrial age of transportation and energy — and fast. He suggests we can reach that magic number of 100 per cent within 15 years.
“The solar-installed capacity has doubled every two years since the year 2000. Doubled every two years,” he says. “If you keep doubling that capacity, all you need is seven more doublings in order for solar to be 100 per cent of the world’s energy supply.”
Seba — also author of Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation — points to the demise of Kodak in 2012 to illustrate what he sees as an impending market disruption in the energy sector.
In the blink of an eye, Kodak, the world’s top film-photography company, was forced into bankruptcy by advances in digital photography and photo-sharing.
Seba cites bankruptcies in in the coal industry as the “start of the end” for the non-renewable energy sector. According to Bloomberg Business, five major U.S. coal companies have filed for bankruptcy over the last two years.
What’s more, the low cost of oil has not slowed investment in clean energy: $367 billion US was invested in green energy in 2015, the Solutions Project says, compared to $253 billion US for fossil fuels.Read More »