Plan offered to move Oklahoma to all-renewable energy by 2050

by Paul Monies Modified: March 7, 2014 at 2:00 pm •  Published: March 6, 2014
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Two-thirds of Oklahoma’s energy needs could be served by wind power by 2050 under an ambitious 50-state plan to transition to renewable energy by a Stanford University professor.

The state has a long way to go, since wind provided just 15 percent of the electricity generated in Oklahoma last year, according to data from the federal Energy Information Administration. And the plan could have difficulty gaining support in Oklahoma, with its longtime economic reliance on the oil and natural gas industry.

Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford, is the lead researcher for the The Solutions Project, a plan to transition from fossil and nuclear fuels to wind, water and solar energy. Jacobson presented his 50-state plan in February at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago.

Drastic solution

“Drastic problems require drastic and immediate solutions,” Jacobson said when the plan was released last month. “Our new road map is designed to provide each state a first step toward a renewable future.”

Jacobson’s team of researchers previously presented detailed proposals for a transition to renewable energy for New York, California and Washington. The Solutions Project builds on those efforts for all 50 states. The board for the project includes renewable energy investors and some vocal opponents of oil and gas development, including “Gasland” filmmaker Josh Fox and actor Mark Ruffalo.

Grand plan

For Oklahoma, the plan envisions 65 percent of the state’s energy use coming from wind farms by 2050. Another 25 percent would come from two types of utility-scale solar plants, photovoltaic and concentrated solar power plants. The remainder would come from either rooftop solar panels or hydropower.

The changes are not just for the electrical generation sector; the plan also wants renewable energy for transportation, industry and heating and cooling. It relies heavily on energy efficiency measures to meet its goal. For Oklahoma, it expects energy efficiency to shave 35 percent off total energy demand.

Oklahoma currently has more than 3,100 megawatts of wind generation capacity, with more than 1,700 industrial-scale turbines dotting the landscape in the western half of the state.

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by Paul Monies
Energy Reporter
Paul Monies is an energy reporter for The Oklahoman. He has worked at newspapers in Texas and Missouri and most recently was a data journalist for USA Today in the Washington D.C. area. Monies also spent nine years as a business reporter and...
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Information

For more information on The Solutions Project, go to www.thesolutionsproject.org.

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