What Is The Most Cost Effective Way To Power The Country?

The video illustrates the most cost effective way to power the county in 2030. The time elapsed represents one winter month. Each circle denotes a power plant in the U.S. The circle sizes represent the amount of power a particular plant supplies to the grid.

  • Red=solar
  • Green=wind
  • Black=nuclear and fossil fuels
  • Blue=hydroelectric

Chris Clack designed this revolutionary model while working on Sandy MacDonald's research team at NOAA. I'm currently writing a piece about that team's work.

What's noteworthy here is that using cost projections for 2030, Chris has demonstrated that in order to maximize economic efficiency, the country needs to ramp up renewable energy to 80% of the country's total energy production. In other words, it's bad economically not scale up renewables.

Sandy, the former director of NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory, believes his research team has shown that we can reach 80% renewable energy generation with today's technology by 2030. Not only would this be the most efficient thing to do for our economy, Sandy believes this would solve climate change. What's more, by redesigning the grid to use high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission, Sandy believes we can harden our critical infrastructure to EMP attacks, coronal mass ejections and cyberattacks, any of which could potentially bring down the current electrical grid.

What's really interesting about the national security implications of Sandy's proposal is that it gives the idea bipartisan support, even among those on the right who deny a human agency to climate change.

Just to be clear: the most cost effective energy system is 80% carbon free using an HVDC transmission system. Sandy says we can do this with today's technology, and if we did, we could also solve climate change, along with one of the most pressing national security issues we face, a vulnerable power grid.

If you'd like to learn how Sandy proposes we can move to 80% renewables with today's technology and secure the grid, you can read his proposal in the piece I published in the Journal Domestic Preparedness.

I'll let you know on my blog when the next article I'm writing about all this comes out.

Benjamin Dancer

Benjamin is the author of the literary thriller Patriarch Run, the first book in a series that will include Fidelityand The Story of the Boy. He also writes about parenting, education, sustainability and national security.

Benjamin works as an Advisor at a Colorado high school where he has made a career out of mentoring young people as they come of age. His work with adolescents has informed his stories, which are typically themed around fatherhood and coming-of-age.

You can connect with Benjamin by signing up for his newsletter below and by participating in the conversation at his blog.