Fossil fuels, specifically oil, are going to run out. You can debate the time frame of “when” until you’re blue in the face and it won’t change the fact that it’s a mathematical certainty that, eventually, that black gold is going to run out. Efforts to nudge the civilized world towards alternative sources of energy have been ongoing for some time and have seen significant progress. If you find that to be good news, you’ll love this: According to researchers at both Stanford and the University of California-Davis, the world could be practically free from fossil fuels inside of 40 years.
“But James,” you inexplicably shout at your monitor. “Switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy would cost a fortune!” According to Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford and study author Mark Jacobson, that’s not necessarily true:
When you actually account for all the costs to society – including medical costs – of the current fuel structure, the costs of our plan are relatively similar to what we have today.
The study focuses on wind and solar energies, which are complementary to each other as wind tends to peak during night hours while the Sun, well, doesn’t. Any dips in generated output by either solar power during the day or wind power at night can be offset by the use of hydroelectric, tidal or geothermal energy.
So, of the 196,939,900 square miles of land on Earth’s surface, how much would be needed to construct enough wind, solar, hydro, tidal and electrical powerplants to power 100% of Earth’s surface? 1%. 1,969,399. That’s roughly a third of the United States which, spread out across the entire globe, is hardly that much land.