Inslee’s plan, dubbed “Freedom from Fossil Fuels,” aims to transition the United States to “100% clean energy” and “will responsibly phase out oil, gas and coal production, carbon-intensive infrastructure and exports.”
As the graph below suggests, the required technological and economic change could be a little overwhelming.
To produce the electric power needed to offset the lost fossil fuel energy, Canada would have to build 2.5 hydro power dams the size of British Columbia’s $13-billion Site C project somewhere in the country “every year for the foreseeable future” leading up to the proposed 2050 carbon reduction targets. The geographic and cost obstacles send that prospect into the realm of the impossible.
On a global basis, the magnitude of the implied decarbonization effort illustrated in the graph takes us beyond the possible and into the world of junk science fiction. In 2018, world consumption of fossil fuels rose to 11,865 million tonnes of oil equivalent (mtoe). To get that down to near zero by 2050 as proposed by the zeroists would require a lot of alternative energy sources.
University of Colorado scientist Roger Pielke Jr. did some of the rough numbers. “There are 11,161 days until 2050. Getting to net zero by 2050 requires replacing one mtoe of fossil fuel consumption every day starting now.” On a global basis, such a transition would require building the equivalent of one new 1.5-gigawatt nuclear plant every day for the next 30 years.
If not nuclear, then maybe solar? According to a U.S. government site, it takes about three million solar panels to produce one gigawatt of energy, which means that by 2050 the world will need 3,000,000 X 11,865 solar panels to offset fossil fuels. The wind alternative would require about 430 new wind turbines each of the 11,865 days leading to 2050.