People around the world may be getting more accustomed to seeing wind turbines or solar panels, but most aren’t aware of how much of the population’s energy needs can be met through the sun, wind, heat and ocean waves.
According to a new study by U.S. researchers Mark Delucchi and Mark Jacobson, these natural resources could provide enough energy to power all—that’s right, all—homes, businesses and factories around the world by 2030.
To make the leap from small-scale usage to complete dependence on clean energy, a significant number of new systems would have to be built. According to the two-man team, this includes 4 million 5-MW wind turbines, 90,000 300-MW large-scale solar plants, and 1.7 billion rooftop PV systems at 3 kW each.
In order to make this happen, world production of rare earth metals would have to quintuple. That includes such materials at neodymium, used to make magnets.
Delucchi and Jacobson drafted this proposal with the intention of completely getting rid of fossil fuels, so they left out biomass and carbon-free electricity generation. Together these make up 10% of the 13% of renewable energy sources currently being used.
One main concern for such infrastructure is efficiency. Both wind and sunlight are fickle, but could be fully sound if the variables were synced together (on a cloudy day, wind turbines make up for less solar power, and vice versa).
While Delucchi and Jacobson’s vision maybe be viewed as extreme by some, their study concludes that 100% renewable energy is indeed possible. It is, as this point, simply a matter of will power.