A doable and needed plan. Shifting the world to 100 percent clean, renewable energy as early as 2030 -- here are the numbers Shifting the world to 100 percent clean, renewable energy as early as 2030 -- here are the numbers IMAGE: Mark Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering, has coauthored an article that is the cover story in the November issue of Scientific American. The article presents new research mapping... Click here for more information. Most of the technology needed to shift the world from fossil fuel to clean, renewable energy already exists. Implementing that technology requires overcoming obstacles in planning and politics, but doing so could result in a 30 percent decrease in global power demand, say Stanford civil and environmental engineering Professor Mark Z. Jacobson and University of California-Davis researcher Mark Delucchi. To make clear the extent of those hurdles and how they could be overcome they have written an article that is the cover story in the November issue of Scientific American. In it, they present new research mapping out and evaluating a quantitative plan for powering the entire world on wind, water and solar energy, including an assessment of the materials needed and costs. And it will ultimately be cheaper than sticking with fossil fuel or going nuclear, they say. The key is turning to wind, water and solar energy to generate electrical power making a massive commitment to them and eliminating combustion as a way to generate power for vehicles as well as for normal electricity use. The problem lies in the use of fossil fuels and biomass combustion, which are notoriously inefficient at producing usable energy. For example, when gasoline is used to power a vehicle, at least 80 percent of the energy produced is wasted as heat. With vehicles that run on electricity, it's the opposite. Roughly 80 percent of the energy supplied to the vehicle is converted into motion, with only 20 percent lost as heat. Other combustion devices can similarly be replaced with electricity or with hydrogen produced by electricity. IMAGE: Mark Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering, has coauthored an article that is the cover story in the November issue of Scientific American. The article presents new research mapping... Click here for more information. Jacobson and Delucchi used data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration to project that if the world's current mix of energy sources is maintained, global energy demand at any given moment in 2030 would be 16.9 terawatts, or 16.9 million megawatts. They then calculated that if no combustion of fossil fuel or biomass were used to generate energy, and virtually everything was powered by electricity either for direct use or hydrogen production the demand would be only 11.5 terawatts. That's only two-thirds of the energy that would be needed if fossil fuels were still in the mix.