100% Renewables – A Few Remarks about the Jacobson/Clack Controversy

By François-Xavier Chevallerau, Biophysical Economics Policy Center

The scientific debate about the feasibility of a full transition to renewable energy is suddenly becoming heated. Yet it may somehow be missing the point. A new paper published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), one of the world’s most prestigious peer-reviewed science journals, has sparked a furious row between prominent scientists over the feasibility for the United States – and the world – to run on 100% renewable energy. Authored by a group of 21 academic and private energy researchers led by Christopher Clack from the University of Colorado, the paper evaluates and refutes a previous study published in 2015 in the same journal by a group of researchers led by Mark Jacobson from Stanford University, and which claimed that a transition to 100% wind, water, and solar (WWS) power for all purposes (electricity, transportation, heating/cooling, and industry) could be achieved in the continental United States between 2050 and 2055, at low...