California is currently embarking on an ambitious renewable energy program to reach certain benchmarks by 2030. It’s a great start, but why not replace all fossil fuel generated electricity with renewables? As of 2016, solar and wind became as expensive or cheaper than fossil fuels in more than 30 different countries – and as technology improves, efficiency is increased, and prices come down, this will only get easier.
Land Art Generator took a look at just how much land use is required to power California with renewables. It’s not as much as you would think. Most of the infrastructure could live on rooftops and public spaces and the rest could inhabit the areas already disturbed by existing fossil fuel operations.
As for the US, the size it would take to power the entire country with solar equals just a few counties in Texas. An MIT study on land use comparisons had some fascinating insights. In it, they find the land area required to power the US demand by 2050:
- Would be no more than the areas already “disturbed by surface mining for coal”
- Is about half that currently being using to grow corn for ethanol
- Is less than the area used by major US roads
- Can be fulfilled 60% by the existing rooftop area in the US
And there are similar statistics for solar energy to power the entire planet:
- The land area we would need is about the size of Spain or California
- If we construct solar farms at the same rate we destroy forests, 170,000 km2 per year, we would be done in three years
- If every nation embarked on a solar program equivalent to the US highway system, it could be completed in a 20-40 year timeline.
As a progressive and forward thinking country, California is the perfect place to show the world how to replace fossil fuel electrical generation with green energy. The only thing holding us back is the corrupt American oligarchy that raids our coffers while thwarting progress in renewables in favor of their petrochemical benefactors. As the recent election confirmed, nothing about this will change until we break free.