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Pressure on Policymakers Increases: Study Proves Feasibility of Global Energy Transition by 2050

A new study by Energy Watch Group and LUT University outlines for the first time the feasibility of a 1.5°C scenario with a low-cost energy system based on high technology diversity. 100% renewables are capable of powering all sectors and driving down CO2 emissions. Until now, it was always said that this wasn't possible with today's technology.

The future could be golden - if politics plays along (Image: Pixabay)The future could be golden - if politics plays along (Image: Pixabay)

The existing potential of renewable energies is capable of guaranteeing a continuously secure power supply if power generation and storage technologies that are already available today will be expanded accordingly. This is the conclusion of the study 'Global Energy System with 100% Renewable Energies', which was conducted by Energy Watch Group and the Technical University of Lappeenranta/Finland.

In the 100% renewable energy based system, primary energy supply is covered by a mix of different renewable energy sources. Solar energy has the largest share in 2050 with 69%, followed by wind energy with 18% and completed by biomass and waste (6%), hydropower (3%) and geothermal energy (2%). The combination of wind and solar energy not only provides 88% of the total energy supply and 96% of the total electricity supply, but also has a synergistic, balancing effect on the energy system, according to the study.

The findings could be a gamechanger: "The report confirms that a shift towards 100% renewables in all sectors is possible and not more expensive than the current energy system," said Hans-Josef Fell, former Member of the German Bundestag and President of Energy Watch Group. "It is shown that the whole world can switch to an emission-free energy system. Therefore, all political forces worldwide can and should do much more for climate protection than currently targeted."

The modelling, conducted to the latest scientific standards, simulates a global switch to 100% renewable energy for 9 major and 145 minor regions with hourly resolution at 5-year intervals from 2015 to 2050. As part of this, the model calculates the cost-optimal technology mix based on locally available renewable energy sources.

Prof. Dr. Claudia Kemfert, Head of the Department of Energy, Transport and Environment at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) highlighted the economic viability of renewable energies: "The study impressively shows that a global switch to renewable energies is not only feasible, but also makes sense economically."

In order to be able to achieve the goals, above all the political course must finally be set. This includes the promotion of sector coupling, private investments - which are best stimulated by fixed feed-in tariffs, tax breaks and legal privileges while at the same time ending subsidies for coal and fossil fuels.

Almost simultaneously on Tuesday, European politicians, businesses and unions called on the United States to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent this decade, increasing pressure on the Biden administration ahead of a climate summit next week, Reuters reported.

The new administration of President Joe Biden, which is charting a radically different course from the former Trump administration, had announced plans to make massive investments in needed infrastructure projects and renewable energy in the U.S. Already on the day of his inauguration, Biden brought the Americans back into the Paris Climate Agreement. Now the president is expected to announce a new emissions reduction target at the upcoming climate summit - and this could serve as a model for other major emitters.

Wind and solar energy are the big pillars of the energy transition (Image: Pixabay)

"We, European political decision makers, CEOs, business organisations, trade unions and think tanks, call the United States to fulfil its ambitions by adopting a climate goal of reducing by at least 50% GHG emissions by 2030 compared to 2005 levels," the 107 European signatories said in the open letter. They include some 20 EU lawmakers and 50 CEOs, such as Alan Jope of Unilever, Helena Helmersson of H&M and Matt Brittin, head of Google's EMEA Business & Operations.

They call for greater transatlantic cooperation as the EU pursues its own plan to eliminate net emissions by 2050 and reduce them by at least 55% from 1990 levels by 2030 - commitments that so far exceed the ambition of other major economies.

The new study now underpins that even more ambitious scenarios are possible. "The results of the study show that in all countries the current targets of the Paris Climate Agreement can and should be accelerated," said Dr Christian Breyer, Professor of Solar Economics at LUT University/Finland. "A shift towards 100% clean, renewable energy is very realistic - already, with the technologies available today."

David Wortmann, initiator of the Eco Innovation Alliance and founding member of Entrepreneurs For Future, also called for innovation-friendly framework conditions from policymakers and emphasised that "an economically profitable energy transition is no longer a myth for us". Franziska Wessel from Fridays For Future also demanded the fastest possible action on the part of politicians: "This study shows what is possible if our politicians are prepared to act. We - Fridays For Future - are calling for a switch to 100% renewable energy as early as 2035."

Katrin Radtke
study, Energy Watch Group, report, global, energy transition, renewable energy, wind, solar, politics, policymakers, emissions, CO2, USA, Joe Biden

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