Earlier this week an all-star group of energy and climate scholars published a scientific article in a prestigious journal pointing out that a Stanford professor’s proposal for powering the United States entirely on renewable energy sources rests upon a gigantic lie.
Over the last several years, Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo and many politicians have pointed to Stanford scientist Mark Jacobson’s modeling as proof that we can quickly and cheaply transition to 100 percent renewables.
What is the lie? That we can increase the amount of power from U.S. hydroelectric dams ten-fold. According to the U.S. Department of Energy and all major studies, the real potential increase is just one percent of that.
Without all that additional hydroelectricity, Jacobson’s entire house of cards falls apart. That’s because there’s no other way to store all of that unreliable solar and wind energy, given the shortcomings of current battery technologies.
The authors diplomatically call Jacobson’s lie an “error,” but it is in fact a lie and everyone — Jacobson included — knows it.
In his response, Jacobson writes, “Increasing hydropower’s peak instantaneous discharge rate was not a ‘modeling mistake’ but an assumption.”
What is an assumption? It is “a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof” [emphasis added].
But what have Jacobson, Gore, DiCaprio and politicians around the world been insisting for years? That Jacobson’s study proves not only that we can power the world with renewables-alone, but also that doing so would be cheaper and more environmentally friendly.
The actual study can be read here.