Monday, July 8, 2019

Despite Obstacles 100 Percent Renewable Energy is Possible

Research proves that 100 percent renewable energy is possible despite detractors who dismiss the idea and the failure of governments to provide adequate support. The need for renewable energy is being driven by threats to both the biosphere and human health. Renewables are essential to both combat the climate crisis and air pollution. Renewable energy provides all of the power requirements in countries like Iceland and others like Cost Rica are on the verge of doing the same. The latter has operated for extended periods of time on nothing but clean power. Even major economies like those in Germany and the UK have been able to operate for short periods without relying on fossil fuels.

Many nations around the world are committed to 100 percent renewable energy. This includes Sweden which has made great strides. We are also seeing renewable energy leadership in Norway, Ireland, and MENA countries.

Although the transition away from fossil fuels towards renewables is already underway efforts to get to 100 percent are being undermined by inadequate government policies and an American Administration that is resistant to clean power. Nonetheless, countries all around the world are demonstrating that the dream of 100 percent renewable energy is alive and well

Many US states have committed to go 100 percent renewable as has the nation's capital. Washington will be entirely powered by renewables by 2035 and a city council resolution (R2019-157) passed in Chicago requires the city to get all its power from renewables by 2040. Illinois has pledged to get all its power from clean sources by 2050. Similar legislation has been passed in states like California and most recently New York.

California is proving that this is not a pipe dream as the state has managed to get more power than it needs from clean sources. For a short time on April 21 California's production of renewables exceeded demand.

According to an April 2019 study a global transition to 100 percent renewable is possible by 2050. This study suggests that led by solar, renewable sources of energy can power our economies including the electricity, heat, transport and desalination sectors. The study by from Energy Watch Group and LUT University of Finland also says this can be done less expensively than current global energy systems.

This research indicates that by making the transition to renewables we can keep warming below the upper threshold limit of 1.5°C laid out in the Paris Climate Agreement. Further, the study states it can be done without either nuclear power or carbon sequestration. The state of the art science was conducted over the period of four and a half years using modeling simulation.

This research suggests that solar could generate 63,400 gigawatts making up 69 percent of the global energy mix. Under this scenario wind would contribute 18 percent with the remaining 13 percent generated by bioenergy, hydropower, and geothermal.

Driven by the declining costs of solar and other renewable technologies as well as battery storage, we are already seeing prodigious growth in renewable energy.  However, to get to 100 percent by 2050 we will need to see widespread electrification and a largely decentralized grid. Perhaps most importantly, we will need to see government involvement including policies that facilitate sector coupling and allow for direct private investment in renewable energy and other zero emission technologies.

The research also recommends feed-in tariff laws, carbon pricing, and ending fossil fuel subsidies. Although not stipulated in the study, we could make tremendous progress if all the subsidies currently provided to fossil fuels were redirected to renewable energy. Clean power providers will also need tax exceptions, direct subsidies and legal privileges. Finally we will need to see frameworks that promote research, education and information sharing.

The President of the Energy Watch Group Hans-Josef Fell summarized the situation when he said, "The energy transition is not a question of technical feasibility or economic viability, but one of political will."

Clean Energy for a Sustainable Future
Europe is Proving the 100 percent Renewables is Possible
Moving Towards 100 Percent Renewable Energy in the US
Our Future can be Powered Entirely by Solar Energy (Infographic)
Clean Energy is Essential for More than Just Climate Action

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