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Going 100% green will pay for itself in 7 years: Study

New York

A STANFORD University professor whose research helped underpin the US Democrats' Green New Deal says phasing out fossil fuels and running the entire world on clean energy would pay for itself in under seven years.

It would cost US$73 trillion to revamp power grids, transportation, manufacturing and other systems to run on wind, solar and hydro power, including enough storage capacity to keep the lights on overnight, Mark Jacobson said in a study published on Friday in the journal One Earth. But that would be offset by annual savings of almost US$11 trillion, the report found.

"There's really no downside to making this transition," said Mr Jacobson, who wrote the study with several other researchers. "Most people are afraid it will be too expensive. Hopefully this will allay some of those fears."

Some of Mr Jacobson's past findings have been questioned, notably a 2017 journal article that criticised his methodology on measuring the cost of phasing out fossil fuels.

The biggest challenge of ditching fossil fuels may not be economic. Even some clean-power advocates acknowledge that technology isn't available yet to run power grids entirely on renewables without jeopardising reliability.

The report published last Friday looked at 143 countries that generate more than 99 per cent of the world's greenhouse emissions. The savings would come from not extracting fossil fuels, using higher-efficiency systems and other benefits of shifting entirely to electricity. It follows a paper Mr Jacobson published in 2015 laying out a state-by-state plan for the US to convert to 100 per cent renewables. BLOOMBERG