Visualizing What Would Happen If Every State Transitioned To Renewable Energy

Imagine a world where we could get past the politics and have clean energy. These maps show what that would mean for each state.

Just for a minute, forget the administrative headache and upfront costs of switching entire states–or even countries–to 100% renewable energy. How would a world of renewable energy-powered homes and businesses be different? If Michigan switched to wind, water, and solar, the state would see annual energy savings of $4,300 per person, 64,300 long-term construction jobs, and 46,200 operations jobs. Health costs would drop dramatically. It’s a similar story throughout the U.S.


In a new interactive map, The Solutions Project shows off all the potential upsides of a country operating solely on renewables. An organization made up of prominent scientists, business leaders, and cultural ambassadors (like actor Mark Ruffalo), the Solutions Project aims to explain the benefits of transitioning to renewables from both a business and science perspective.

Ruffalo, the most public-facing leader of the Solutions Project–and a long-time environmental advocate–first became interested in creating a comprehensive renewable energy plan because of frustrations about the way people talk about the energy space, focusing more on problems than potential fixes.

“Everyone is happy to see us just going along like another junkie begging for our next fix. No one really wanted to come up with a solution,” he says.

The 50 state transition plan was developed using research from Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford and another cofounder of the Solutions Project. That research was then turned into a series of infographics by Jon Wank, chief operating officer of the project. “We’re using design and content to give people very easy tools to influence and share with their local leaders that this is an inevitable transition,” says Marco Krapels, a partner with private equity firm Pegasus Capital Advisors and cofounder of the Solutions Project.

The Solutions Project is doing more than just nice-looking maps and infographics. According to Jacobson, the group is building renewable energy transition plans for each state, identifying the states most likely to adopt those plans, and then talking to relevant policymakers. In California, there is a measure inside the Democratic Party to integrate that state’s renewable energy plan into the party platform. “We’re just getting off the ground in terms of implementation,” says Jacobson.

Check out the interactive renewable energy map here.


About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.