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100% Fossil Fuel Free By 2030?

Updated on September 26, 2019
jackclee lm profile image

Before retiring, Jack worked at IBM for over 28 years. His articles have over 120,000 views.


Recently, a great event happened at the UN meeting on Climate change. Activists including a 16 year old from Sweden wants the world to change... They want to eliminate all fossil fuel usage by 2030. Have they thought of what will it take?

Here is a simple intellectual exercise that anyone with a 6 grade education can follow.

- Sept. 2019


I am an engineer by training. As any good engineer will know, when you are presented with a problem or task, you have to evaluate it with a top down view first. Once that is done, you can proceed with the detail design and implementation...

Part of this exercise is always cost and time...can we accomplish what is given in a reasonable time period and at the lowest possible cost? That is the sign of a good engineer.

Let’s do the math. From 9/2019 to 1/2030 is approx. 10.25 years. That is 3770 days. In order to achieve 0% fossil fuel use, we would have to convert all existing equipment that burn gasoline, propane, diesel fuel, jet fuel and something else that is renewable.

That also includes all the existing power generation plants excluding nuclear power plants.

This is monumental to say the least. Even if every man women and child put all our energy into this, it cannot be achieve in 10 years or 30 years for that matter.

For example, the average life span of a gasoline car is 12 years. A car bought today will most likely last till 2031. Even if you could ramp up production of All Electrical vehicles like Tesla, you would need to build 10 million vehicles a year. The current production rate is only 200,000 a year. That is 50 times higher. Can anyone do this? The answer is NO. Even Elon Musk cannot do it.

Existing Machinery That Uses Fossil Fuel...

  • Automobiles
  • Motorcycles
  • Airplanes
  • Trucks
  • Trains
  • Ships
  • Ferries
  • Power plants
  • Rockets
  • Portable Generators
  • Building Furnaces


The logistics of replacing all fossil fuel related systems is a nightmare. Don’t forget, it takes energy to do things...anything. In the example of ramping up production of All Electric vehicles, you will need to use a huge amount of energy to build the parts that goes into making these cars. The battery alone, which is a major component of the Tesla, requires the use rare earth elements that needs to be discovered and mined...all of which takes “energy”. Currently, the only reliable energy we have is produced by fossil fuel.

Therefore, in order to accomplish what we want, we first have to use more fossil fuel on a grand you see the problem?

Cost to Replace...

Just as an example, the typical jet plane cost in the neighborhood of $200 million. The Boeing company has made a fortune building these planes starting with the 707...all the way to the 787 series. It is estimated that there are 12,000 commercial planes in existence. That is 2.4 trillion dollars just to replace all commercial jets.

What is the Alternative?

In the case of jet planes, there are few good options. We can revert back to the 1930s and use dirigibles.

Solar Airship


It is a pipe dream that intelligent people and scientists think we can live without fossil fuel. The fact is renewable energy source will only account for 10% of our total energy needs. The very nature of our existence, our way of life, our technological advances, is due solely to the abundance and cost effectiveness of fossil fuel. There is no replacement as yet.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Jack Lee


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