100% Renewable Energy Is Feasible and Affordable, According to Stanford Proposal

“One of the greatest promises of the high-tech future, whether made explicitly or implicitly through shiny clean concept sketches, is that we will have efficient energy that doesn’t churn pollutants into the air and onto the streets.

But here in the present, politicians and even many clean energy advocates maintain that a world run on hydrogen and wind, water and solar power is not yet possible due to technical challenges like energy storage and cost.

Yet Stanford University researchers led by civil engineer Mark Jacobson have developed detailed plans for each state in the union that to move to 100 percent wind, water and solar power by 2050 using only technology that’s already available. The plan, presented recently at the AAAS conference in Chicago, also forms the basis for The Solutions Project nonprofit.

Clean energy would save an average American consumer $3,400 per year than the current fossil fuel regime by 2050, the study lays out. That’s because the price of fossil fuel rises regularly, but with clean energy — where raw materials are free — once the infrastructure is built, prices would fall.

For example, in California, the researchers found that it’s already possible to use wind, water and solar energy to meet demand 99.8 percent of the time.

“The conclusion is that it’s technically and economically feasible,” Jacobson told Singularity Hub.”

More at the source: Singularity Hub

16 thoughts on “100% Renewable Energy Is Feasible and Affordable, According to Stanford Proposal”

  1. I would stay attached if I had solar panels. The electricity you generate and don’t use is moved into the grid and you get credit for it. Then when you are not producing enough for your needs you can pull from the grid and use your credits. You don’t have to buy use batteries to store energy, you can use the grid at no cost. Who knows you might even make some money.

  2. Carroll:

    Every book ever written MUST make certain assumptions about the background knowledge of the reader.

    Because of this, there is no book that will give EVERY nitty gritty detail on any topic.

    (Here is a famous quote from Carl Segan on exactly this concept.)


    You’re just wanting to make a solar setup instead of an apple pie, but the principle is the same.

    There always comes a point where the reader must have a certain basic knowledge of the background of a topic before reading even the most comprehensive book is helpful.

    My suggestion is to stop trying to look for that one book that will give you every detail. It doesn’t exist.

    Instead, seek out websites and online communities where you can read and ask specific questions when you get stuck or confused.

    Yes, getting a good book is an excellent idea, but invariably you’ll need to supplement that information with your own research from other sources.

    Keep in mind that no author can anticipate every possible situation. No author has seen exactly your property, your house, and they don’t know exactly what your goals and expectations are.

    I suggest using some of the same basic principles we often discuss on this blog for building structures.


    We talk a lot about building a small shed as a first structure. It’s a great way to learn how to build in a low risk and low cost manner. Plus you get a useful shed out of the effort. Then someone can move on to bigger, more complex, and more expensive structures with more knowledge and more confidence.

    Why not apply the same strategy to alternative energy?

    Build something small first.

    Keep it simple at first. Build a small one panel system for something you can use. Maybe you have a small camper? Try a single panel that charges a small battery to power just a few lights.

    Don’t have a camper? How about a system to provide power to a small shed?

    Look around you where you are right now, and see where there a small simple system might be useful to you. Then start researching how to build something appropriate and give it an attempt.

    YouTube has probably a hundred different examples of extremely small portable systems. I’ve seen tiny systems with a single panel and a battery installed inside a toolbox that can be carried around to different job sites. It’s not designed to power an entire house, but it can charge a cell phone, cordless power tool battery, a jobsite radio, and other items. Such a tiny portable solar setup can be extremely handy to have around.

    Building something like that is a great way to get started.

    I suggest Gary Reysa’s website is one of the best solar websites.


    It has project examples of very large systems, but also many excellent small projects.

    You may also want to join an online community, like the Yahoo Simply Solar group.

    The best books I have found on wind power are by Hugh Piggot, or Dan Fink/Dan Bartman.

    They have an extremely useful website:


    They have projects large and small. Lots of photos. They have an entire build for a homemade 20ft diameter wind turbine that produces more than enough power to run their entire home, and their shop full of heavy equipment.

    They also have a design for powering a nightlight from a hampster wheel. I’m not kidding. It’s hilarious, but awesome in it’s own way. Great project for kids.

    You can do this Carroll. The information is all out there. If you start small, you can jump in and enjoy the process of learning.

    I wish you fun journeys and great success.

  3. This is addressed to whoever has the best answer. “IS” there a book, DVD or what not that has the EXACT steps in building a solar setup. I have a DVD on building the solar panels but, it leaves way too much out. I want ALL the nitty gritty with all the terms you need to know and the best places to buy the components. Shown with the reasoning behind every piece and connection.. IS there such a thing? What I’ve found seems to assume you already know all about it and skips over important parts. I want it laid out in very simple terms that even the most lay person can grasp. I’m touchy about this because I feel like I only got “half the story” when I purchased a video on building my own solar panels etc. Another one would be on micro hydro and wind. Using GOOD machinery and not something from your local automotive store. Yes, I have seen this kind of advice too.

    • Solar Energy International has an excellent general information book on solar. You could contact them and see what they recommend for your project.

      You’ve brought up an interesting point. It’s often hard to find detailed building instructions. There might be 10-20 books on a subject and maybe only one that thoroughly explains the building process. For this reason it’s best to preview books if possible before buying.

  4. Yes Owen, that oil spill is what I was referring to.

    What is most horrific is the mess still has not been cleaned up in Mayflower and the Oil Company is trying to force residents to move back into their houses which are essentially toxic waste dumps. They had oil flowing like a river through the streets of that poor town for cripes sake. It’s soaked deep into the soil and into the ground water. It will be a toxic waste area for a hundred years, probably longer.

    On another note, it looks like my comments got discovered by the Oil Company spam bots and they are going to attempt to take over the discussion and force their agenda on the blog comments. At least that is what appears is starting to happen.

    Milton’s entire argument is about commercial options for energy production. Which is exactly my point. I have ZERO DESIRE to advocate what is best for commercial energy. I don’t give a crap what commercial interests want. I care about what is best for me, my family, and for other families. Those commercial interests can go jump off a cliff for all I care. They should be paying their fair share instead of sucking like leeches off the rest of us.

    READ THE STUDY that Owen linked to in this blog post. IT SAVES MONEY for people to get off the commercial energy rip-off systems.

    Average citizens are being forced to subsidize big energy hog users. The biggest energy consumers get deeply discounted rates, and the rest of average citizens are forced to pay through the nose. It’s not right.

    The more people get off the grid the better, even in cities. The fewer average citizens that are forced to subsidize the corporate titans of the world, the better. Let those corporations pay the real price for the energy they use, including taxes to pay for the wars to protect their energy abuses. Maybe they would find better ways to use less energy if they were forced to pay the actual total cost to society of their wasteful ways. (Probably at least 10 times what they currently pay.)

    The technology is already available for average people to build their own energy systems. About the only real problem holding people back is a lack of awareness, and government red-tape.

    As far as Darron’s arguments about cities…

    I’m all in favor of moving as many people to a rural lifestyle as possible. It would be best for society all around.

    Let’s change the rural zoning regulations that mandate minimum acreage for a small farm plot. Today, most local rural governments force someone to buy more acreage than needed and more acreage than they can afford. It perpetuates a system where only the richest and most powerful land owners can afford to by land in many areas. That or someone needs to get a back loan over a span of many decades to pay off their mortgage.

    Let’s allow an individual THAT DESIRES A RURAL LIFESTYLE to purchase a small farm plot of just a couple of acres to ten acres or so. (Nearly impossible to acquire in most rural farming areas today.) These used to be common in the United States. Let’s abandon the zoning laws that force someone to buy 40 to 400 acres that they don’t need, don’t want, and can’t afford. Let’s have family farms again instead of corporate agribusiness controlling all the land.

    I have zero motivation to support an energy policy designed to serve the cities and screw over the rural areas. Big cities are a huge part of the problems if you ask me. Don’t want power outages, looting, etc? GET OUT OF THE CITY!!!

    Get out to a rural area where hopefully you can find a place to build their own home with their own two hands, like this blog advocates. Instead of being forced to build a structure that makes some government bureaucrat happy, build a house that is so well insulated that it only takes a tiny energy input to heat it. Have a food forest to feed yourself and your family so that you don’t need to buy food shipped from half way around the planet and filled with toxic herbicides, pesticides, and preservatives.

    What would be so bad about having millions or even hundreds of millions of small wind turbines or solar panels each supplying the energy needs of an off-grid homeowner? Especially if the homeowner BUILT THEIR OWN WIND TURBINE and tower. (Google Huge Piggot Axial Flux for more information.)

    I say bring on that change. It cannot come soon enough. It would be a far better society than the mess we have today.

    • The back story is so many people are switching to solar and wind and other alternative energy systems such as biofuel that power companies are hurting for business. Their profits are sinking from what I hear. The trend is toward distributed power, microgrids and local power production in your home. Huge companies like General Electric see the trend and have committed billions of dollars to develop this market. So this looks like the future of energy.

      And yeah to small, affordable homes and rural living.

  5. Its a nice idea. But we would need millions of turbines and miles of solar panels. Ive read articles about the not in my backyard thinking of our nation.
    I once read an article about a home hydrogen power plant by GE.They said it was much easier to do than vehicles.They showed a box the size of a freezer behind a home.
    I do agree the government and special interests would be the big problem.

  6. I think everyone is being a little to idealistic here. The importance of power has gone way beyond powering you lights and TV. When cities have power outages stores get looted, people get killed and people die because their O2 concentrator stops working. Business shuts down, services shut down, communication shuts down in a nut shell, the power grid has to stay on. Who owns the current state of oil and coal based power production? Naturalist, Naturalist fought nuclear power which is by far the best power source going. It has a couple minor drawbacks but they are nothing compared to the pollution chugging coal power plants the naturalist have litigated us into.

    I’m not comfortable with the lack of information regarding the effects of wind power and solar power on a huge scale. If we cover the planet with solar arrays how will that effect the sun’s influence on surface temperatures, wind currents and surface hydration. If you over graze the plains you cause droughts; if you cool the surface of the earth by stealing the suns rays what does that do? If you slow the movement of the wind with massive wind mill power fields how does that effect those down wind? I don’t know and these types of power generation methods are little used but what will happen if they are used in mass? I don’t know but before I dive into any lake or river I swim out and test the water first so I know it is safe.

    Just my quick thoughts. Darron

  7. For grid tied people, I don’t see where the savings are coming from. With the exception of defense costs where less oil = less foreign involvement = less money. Perhaps it is indirect savings?

    Much of commercial solar and wind is owned by big oil. As more of a push to switch energy sources comes about, big oil will invest even more. Oil CEOs will want to maintain their corporate profits. Energy rates for those still tied to the grid will remain high and rise even though the source isn’t oil powered. Companies don’t down size in the area of profits voluntarily. If they have a product that is needed, most likely it will remain high in cost.

    Currently solar is becoming more affordable to the individual. In fact it is a much more dependable, the less maintenance option compared to wind. Wind rarely produces on a small scale the claimed watts. Plus you have the added costs of towers, wind damage and servicing. Really the only catch with solar/wind is storage. Lead acid flooded batteries are not all that cost effective. Newer options are a ways off and proto types don’t last much longer. The Edison cell (nickle-iron) isn’t being produced in this country anymore and the ones from China are $$$$$$$.

    Wind farms are the natural commercial option because of alternating current. AC allows smaller diameter wire and longer distances. The grid is set up for it. I expect to see big oil which is already heavily invested to spend large sums acquiring more wind and solar. If your tied to the grid, most likely you won’t see much savings on your power bill. Even if big oil doesn’t control your power company, by market forces they will control the cost. And as we all know if one company sees another making certain profits on the exact same commodity, they will make their price the same.

    The best option for folks now is to get your own system. With solar companies going broke and foreign companies lowering costs, panels are within the reach of most people. Used solar is a good option as most panels will continue to produce for a minimum of 25 years. Controllers and inverters are getting cheaper too. Batteries are the worst part. The best one can expect is about 7 years. A grid tied system is an option, but if at all possible I would detach or move off grid.

  8. Great post Owen.

    This ties together well with the discussion in the comments under the “Husk Energy” blog post.

    It seems clear to me that the real driving force for current energy and economic policy has very little to do with providing energy to homes, families, or individual transportation. The current policies are all about forcing average citizens to subsidize the biggest factories and energy consumers.

    We really don’t need the massive power plant infrastructure to provide energy to individuals and families. The energy needed by most citizens can be provided on site using existing technology in the form of solar, wind, micro-hydro, biogas, syngas, and biomass. Most citizens would SAVE MONEY over time by installing these systems today.

    The big losers if such an energy transition took place would be big energy companies like big oil, but the other big losers would be massive industrial companies that currently depend on getting extremely cheap energy from steeply discounted rates (compared to average citizen rates) from massive power plants.

    Perhaps if the big industrial titans have to start paying their fair share for the oil they burn (and paying their fair share for the expensive wars that get fought to protect the supply of that oil) we all will be a lot better off. Less pollution, less war, and more freedom for average citizens.

    I commented under the Husk blog post that it’s very doable for someone to become essentially energy independent today with existing technologies. All the needed information is available. Combine that with a DIY owner built pay-as-you-build mortgage free home, and a forest garden with a permaculture ethic, and those citizens wouldn’t need much of an income to support themselves.

    Imagine not worrying about taxes, because you don’t need much of an income to support yourself?

    Don’t worry. I don’t expect this type of freedom to ever become reality. The forces of corporate domination will find a way to get everyone else to continue paying for their wasteful/polluting ways. They always do.

    • I agree with everything up to where you said “I don’t expect this type of freedom to ever become reality.” Thousands or possibly way more people are already doing what you’ve described and what we publish about here at Natural Building Blog. There are examples galore as can be seen from all the stories we’ve profiled.

      But maybe what you’re saying is the powers that be won’t allow these freedom, independence, self sufficient ideas to massively spread, because that would remove the power and income stream for these crooked money grubbing globalists and their enabler politician friends. We’ll see what happens.

  9. The obvious is intentionally overlooked for money and votes. Big oil IS the problem along with disinformation from the money lenders who are in bed with big oil.


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