Summary Report on Energy Visions 2/19 NJPPN Event

Submitted by Klaus Rittenbach, Climate Action, NJ and Climate Lobby

The first speaker (via Skype) was Prof. Mark Jacobson of Stanford University, who is well known for his widely acclaimed, state-by-state vision to transition our nation to 100% renewables by the year 2050. His claim to fame started with his 2009 Scientific American article at web.stanford.edu/…/jacobs…/Articles/I/sad1109Jaco5p.indd.pdf which got worldwide attention.

Prof. Jacobson explained the rationale and methodology behind his comprehensive master energy plan tailored for each of the 50 states. A link to his presentation slides are at www.northjerseypublicpolicy.org/past_events. He said that harmful fossils fuel emissions are causing 3-7 million premature deaths worldwide. His plan would essentially transition us away from from fossil fuels and replace them with electricity for almost all sources of energy, mostly generated from wind and solar. 

His plan would also phase out nuclear energy sources in the US. He claims nuclear power results in up to 25 times more carbon emissions than wind energy, when reactor construction and uranium refining and transport are considered. Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology for coal is not included in his plan, because while it can reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, it still has significant amounts of other air pollutants.

He detailed the state-specific goals that make sense for New Jersey. In addition to 45% savings through energy efficiency and conservation measures, his plan for NJ (thesolutionsproject.org/infographic/#nj) to go to 100% renewables by 2050 (including transportation, heating & cooling) calls for the following: 55% of the energy would come from offshore wind, 10% from onshore wind, 27% from solar PV plants (commercial scale solar), 3.5% residential rooftop PV, and 2.8% commercial/govt rooftop PV, and 0.9% from wave & tidal energy.

This transition plan to clean energy would create 175,000 jobs, and avoid 1,530 pollution deaths every year. The transition pays for itself in as little as 12 years from the air pollution and climate costs savings alone. Because of the low maintenance costs of wind and solar, average electricity costs would eventually decrease from the current 17 cents per kWh to 7.5 cents per kWh.

Additional articles relating to Jacobson's work are at: web.stanford.edu/…/e…/jacobson/Articles/I/susenergy2030.html. A good recent video is www.greenbiz.com/v…/solutions-project-getting-100-renewables

The second speaker was Dan Sosland, President of the non-profit Acadia Center (www.acadiacenter.org, formerly ENE, Environment Northeast), which spearheads pragmatic implementation of plans to reduce carbon emissions throughout New England.

He mostly talked about his Climatevision2020 study and report (climatevision.acadiacenter.org/…/ENE_ClimateVision2020_v1.1…). Many of his slides are viewable online in an interactive chart (climatevision.acadiacenter.org).

Sosland says 42% of Greenhouse gases in the NE region of the US come from transportation, and 40% from buildings. In order to get buy-in from politicians and from the public, he emphasized the need to tell a positive story, to create a positive vision for the future. Maximizing energy efficiency is important, as is transitioning to clean energy. He mentioned how the 10 northeastern states that have implemented RGGI have benefited from that initiative (Gov. pulled NJ out of RGGI in 2011). Greenhouse gases for the region have declined since the peak in 2005, and declined more so than the US as a whole. This is partly due to electricity generated from less carbon-intensive energy sources, such as natural gas and renewables, and partly due to major efforts to use energy more efficiently.

The third speaker was Capt. Leo Goff, US Navy (Ret.) speaking from the perspective of one of the world's largest users of fuel and energy, the U.S. military. He is the Program Manager for the Military Advisory Board of CNA (formerly, the Center for Naval Analysis) (www.cna.org/about/staff/leo-goff).

If the US military was a country, it would be the world's 34th largest consumer of energy. 80% of US government energy consumption is by the Department of Defense. Oil has a strategic imperative for the military; 3/4 of military energy use is oil. Aircraft carriers are nuclear powered; the military has used nuclear power in its ships and submarine since 1954 with few problems. However, their aircraft carriers must still must be refueled every three days to fuel all the aircraft onboard the carrier. Jet planes are being refurbished to run on 50% biofuels to reduce the dependence on foreign oil.

The military has huge incentives to get better gas mileage in everything from planes to ships to tanks and vehicles to cut down on long supply lines and costs. Many of the attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan have been on the fuel supply convoys that are constantly needed to allow the soldiers to carry out their mission. It is very cost effective for the military to focus on energy efficiency. On average, it costs the military 12 cents per kWH to buy energy, but only 4 cents per kWH to buy energy efficiency. They are increasingly carrying solar panels and even miniature wind turbines to provide a portable source of power.

The US military totally gets the threat of climate change; it is included in their Quadrennial review reports and other documents. Admiral Locklear, Commander of the US Pacific forces has stated that the greatest long-term threat in the Pacific theater is climate change - it will destabilize regions and create huge numbers of refugees from low-lying areas. However, the political situation in Washington is such that they don't talk about climate change in Washington; instead they talk about their need to reduce their consumption of energy, especially oil, and increase their use of renewables.

- Klaus Rittenbach, Climate Action New Jersey Facebook groupsite administrator

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