Publication Detail

A Fifteen Year Roadmap Toward Complete Energy Sustainability


Research Report

Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS), Plug-In Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Research Center

Download PDF

Suggested Citation:
Watson, Sterling and Andrew A. Frank (2012) A Fifteen Year Roadmap Toward Complete Energy Sustainability. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-12-35

Presented at EUEC 2012 Energy, Utility & Environment, 14th Annual Conference, Jan 30-Feb 1, 2012 in Phoenix, AZ (Session: Energy Sustainability)

The purpose of this paper is to show that we can transition from fossil fuel dependency to a sustainable society dependent only on renewable energy, in the form of renewable electricity and biofuels. In truth, all energy is renewable, but fossil fuels are renewable with a cycle time of hundreds of millions of years. As the rate of oil removal from the earth reaches its peak, we must find an alternative to fossil fuel energy. We will show that we can use renewable energy with a cycle time of less than one year to power our entire society.

We will present a road map of how this can be accomplished in only fifteen years with a reasonable rate of investment, using the example of the typical American state of Hawaii. We are choosing Hawaii because its energy usage can be easily measured by accounting for imported fossil fuel. Hawaii is isolated from traditional energy resources because it is geologically very young. If we can show that Hawaii can become fossil fuel independent, then any state in the U.S. can also become fossil fuel independent.

With this scenario, the oil and coal companies would be put out of business. Our objective is rather to enhance their business by asking them to create a more valuable product for society. Rather than using the fossil material for energy, it can be transformed into recyclable plastic materials for construction, or other products beneficial to society. In this manner, we can solve the depletion of our forests while creating a recyclable product useful to society forever. In addition, we don’t have to sequester the carbon dioxide that results from burning fossil fuel. Thus, we should be investing in developing commercial materials and products from oil and coal to benefit society rather than investing in carbon sequestration research.