With energy and fuel costs at an all-time high, the world is searching for cost-effective alternatives to oil and gas as a source of energy.
Fortunately, a new study from Stanford University suggests that transitioning to renewable energy sources may not be as tough as we believe. After analysing 145 nations, the experts concluded that moving to sustainable energy and electrifying all energy sectors will not result in outages or price increases. According to the report, prices would reduce instantly, and the initial expenditures associated with converting to 100% renewable energy would be recouped within six years.
Mark Z. Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University and director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program, directed the study. Professor Jacobson has long advocated for 100% renewable energy, and in 2020 he wrote a book on the subject.
According to him, “We do not need miracle technologies to solve these problems. By electrifying all energy sectors; producing electricity from clean, renewable sources; creating heat, cold, and hydrogen from such electricity; storing electricity, heat, cold and the hydrogen; expanding transmission; and shifting the time of some electricity use, we can create safe, cheap, and reliable energy everywhere.”
One of the primary reasons for this is that the combustion-based energy systems utilised by the majority of nations require a considerable amount of energy to function. Professor Jacobson asserts that the global energy consumption would immediately decrease by 56% if we switched to a clean, renewable energy grid. The savings are a result of the efficiency of clean energy over combustion systems, as well as the efficiency of electrified industry, as it would no longer be necessary to expend energy on acquiring fossil fuels.
The good news does not end there, however. A renewable energy system reduces the cost per energy unit by an average of 12%, resulting in a 63% reduction in yearly energy costs. Obviously, there are also other health benefits associated with a clean energy system that would reduce pollution.
Types of Renewable Energy
The team of researchers evaluated onshore and offshore wind energy, solar power, solar heat, geothermal electricity and heat, hydroelectricity, and modest amounts of tidal and wave electricity in order to form their assessment. The team discovered that no batteries with a storage capacity of more than four hours were required. Batteries were the most prevalent method of energy storage.
The price tag is not insignificant, with an estimated $62 trillion needed to modernise systems in 145 countries, which create 99.7% of the world’s carbon dioxide. However, switching to clean, renewable energy yields immediate annual savings of $11 trillion. This indicates that the world might recoup the initial costs in as little as six years if these nations were prepared to make the necessary changes.
Professor Jacobson and his group propose that the global transition to 100% renewable energy by no later than 2035, and no later than 2050. The team’s objective is for 80% of the world to make the transition by 2030.
Despite the fact that this may appear unattainable, several nations are already making progress in this direction. Iceland, Albania, and Paraguay all use nearly 100% renewable electricity. Approximately 80% of Brazil’s electricity comes from renewable sources, despite the country’s vast population and varied environmental record. Consequently, these objectives are not impossible so long as additional governments support them.
I feel the time may be perfect for the world to transition to renewable energy for 3 reasons.
The unpredictability of fuel prices can diminish the demand for fossil fuels, lessen the inflationary ripple effect, and indirectly reduce inflation.
Governments around the world can examine this transition in light of the impending recession, as central banks will likely tighten monetary policy (raise interest rates) and reduce consumer spending during such economic times. They can provide certain funds for renewable energy construction incentives. Ultimately, the future is electric, right?
Some developed nations have already pledged to reduce carbon emissions and reduce (or ban) the sale of internal combustion engine (ICE) automobiles by 2030-2035. Why not take advantage of this opportunity to fully transition to renewable energy?
Obviously, this is a simplistic explanation; there are many other factors to consider when making such an investment, such as government regulations, infrastructure setup, cost of living, and the readiness, affordability, and availability of EVs in their individual countries.