How to drive fossil fuels out of the US economy, quickly

According to a Vox posting the US has everything it needs to decarbonize by 2035. Article written By David Roberts and published on Aug 6, 2020

Roberts starts the article with the US industrial build up to arm the world during WW II which by any measure was massive and impressive.He then goes on to say we need a similar effort for the US to De-carbonize the us to as close to 100% as possible before 2050 or it will be too late for us as we will have reached a point of no return. He then goes on that Saul Griffith who is a physicist, engineering, researcher, inventor and serial entrepreneur has developed a planning tool do dhow that 70% to 80% of the reduction required could be completed by 2035. His plan is simple we just go 100% electric.

“The report reinforces a key finding,” says Leah Stokes, an environmental policy expert at the University of California Santa Barbara. “Cleaning up the electricity system solves the lion’s share of the problem. It allows us to electrify our transportation and building sectors and parts of heavy industry, which would address more than 70 percent of total emissions.”

Griffith states that despite the massive effort that it would take to De-carbonize there is no new technology required not does it require some kind of major reduction in life style. All it needs according to Griffith, is a serious effort to replace everything that uses fossilize fuels with identical ones that uses electricity. Obviously a government policy and regulatory structure would be required.

The following video explains the plan.

The full Vox article is provided below just click on the Vox article

Vox on De-Carbonizing the United States

The problem with plans like this is the people that plan them have no clue how the real world works. Or how complex it really is to do that he suggests in only 14 years. I’ll just discus one item the us electric power grid. The are 5 separate grids comprising 120,000 miles of high voltage transmission lines and in addition all the local transmission line which are probably a 1,000 time that number. I’ll just look at the main power transmission line. The graphic below so the source and destination of all the energy used in the US in 2018

There are two sources of power on the graphic we are only going to look at the net delivered here. The first is electric power shown in orange at 12.95 Quads. The other is everything else (that we want to get ride of) shown in pink at 63.00 Quads. The grand total delivered is 75.95 Quads. 12.96 Quads is equal to 2,809.6 Terawatts and 75.95 Quads is equal to 22,273.4 Terawatts. In round numbers if we convert the 22,273.4 Terawatts to electricity power the US power grid would need to be expanded by 5 times to handle the new load.The Grid does not normally have much excess capacity. So the 120,000 miles would need to be 600,000 or the wires would need to be each 5 times the present capacity. that is 42,857 miles per year for 14 years. But it gets worse since that is the first ting that needs to be done so maybe there is only 10 years to complete and that would be 60,000 miles or the equivalent. Below is a simple diagram of the Grid

The other problem we have is hydroelectric and nuclear that are not realist options so that leaves Solar PV and Wind to male up that 22,273.4 Terawatts that are being eliminated. So the question is how many wind farms and solar farms will we need? A relatively quick review will put us in the ball park. These numbers assume no storage of power, but do assume that they are spread out to mitigate outages.

The following assumptions are for wind turbines: a 20 megawatt wind farm containing 4 5 megawatt turbines and 32 acres of land. To produce 22,273.4 Terawatts would require 442,138 wind farms and a total of 1,764550 wind turbines. I t would take about 22,057 square miles of land.

The following assumptions are for solar PV panels: 20 megawatt solar PV farm containing 40,0000 500 watt panels. To produce 22,273.4 Terawatts would require 610,806 solar PV farms and a total of 24,432,239,240 500 watt solar PV panels (each panel is 7′ 6″ by 4′ 3″. It would take about 76,351 square miles of land.

Obviously some combination of the two would be better but its very unrealistic to think that any combination of these two options could be done before 2050. Keep in mind that you can’t close a carbon based plant until the grid and the wind or solar options was in place. There are other considerations as well like is there enough raw materials to do this and is there the production capacity to make the panels. keep in mind that other countries are also trying to this.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.