With forethought, the next 35 years can be a journey toward a healthier, wealthier, and cleaner future. New research shows that by 2050 the smell of fossil fuel fumes could be “old school”. In Wisconsin, instead of annually exporting $12 billion in today’s dollars on energy we could be generating all our own residential, commercial, industrial and transportation energy right here courtesy of the wind and sun.
A recent study out of Stanford and U.C. Berkeley finds that the entire country could generate all of its energy needs with renewable, non-fossil fuel sources by the year 2050, just 35 years from now, using currently available technology. New innovations could shorten that time frame. (Just compare your current smart phone with the one that used to hang on the wall in 1980!)
The study lays out a state-by-state outline for achieving renewable energy independence. What would it look like for Wisconsin?
· 51,458 career (40 yr.) construction jobs created
· 33,200 career (40 yr.) operation jobs created
· 36% increased efficiency over burning fossil fuels - much less total energy needed
· $7.1 billion saved annually in health care costs (934 lives saved annually)
· $10,779 annual energy, health, and climate costs saved per person by the year 2050
To reach this goal the projection predicts that Wisconsin’s energy mix would be roughly comprised of: 3% rooftop solar, 16% solar photovoltaic plants, 2% concentrated solar plants, 45% on shore wind, 30% off shore wind, 3% commercial / govt. solar rooftop, and 1% hydroelectric. Less than 3% land area would be needed.
This future won’t just happen without intentional planning. Adjusting to new opportunities is always a challenge. But what’s not to like about a free, endless supply of energy generated on our own soil that reaps health, wealth and employment benefits for all? It’s a future we Badgers should embrace because the path we’re on is not sustainable, and this bountiful Earth is the only home we’ll ever know. We’re here forever…Earthbound.