Renewable Energy for All. Is It Possible?
September 28, 2015
Shuk-Wah Chung / Greenpeace East Asia & Scott Keyes / ThinkProgress
Not only is a transition to renewable power possible, but it will create jobs and is cost-competitive. The average additional investment needed in renewables until 2050 is about $1 trillion a year. But because renewables don't require fuel, the savings are $1.07 trillion a year, which more than meets the costs of the investment. A 100% renewable energy world by 2050, and it could start in as little as three months from now with a binding agreement at the COP 21 conference in Paris.
Renewable Energy for All. Is It Possible?
Shuk-Wah Chung / Greenpeace East Asia
(September 21, 2015) -- A world powered 100% by renewables seems like a faraway fantasy. But is it actually possible?
"100% renewables!" It's a buzz-phrase that loves being thrown around by environmentalists, passionate protesters and science geeks alike. From activists, to companies or start-ups spruiking their latest eco-powered device, renewable anything is a steadily growing industry.
If you're reading this then you already know the motivation behind this growing trend. Climate change, pollution, increasingly warm oceans, water and food shortages -- these are just some of the factors that are driving us towards an energy poor world.
If we continue towards this path we could be living in a world reminiscent of Total Recall -- an oxygen-starved "Waterworld" with only a handful of habitable cities.
With fossil fuels being one of the biggest drivers behind climate change we know that if we change our practices now and turn to renewables we can keep within the 2 degrees safety limit that scientists warn us about.
But 100% renewable energy? Really? Don't we need just a little bit of coal/nuclear power to keep the world spinning?
Greenpeace International, in collaboration with the Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics, Systems Analysis & Technology Assessment at the German Aerospace Center, have just made the impossible possible.
A 100% renewable energy world by 2050, and it could start in as little as three months from now with a binding agreement at the COP 21 conference in Paris. According to the report, what we need is:
"A strong, long-term goal, phasing out fossil fuels and nuclear power by 2050 through a just transition to 100% renewable energy, as well as the protection and restoration of forests."
What's more, not only is this transition possible, but it will create jobs and is cost-competitive, with the necessary investment more than covered by savings in future fuel costs.
The average additional investment needed in renewables until 2050 is about $1 trillion a year. Because renewables don't require fuel, the savings are $1.07 trillion a year, so they more than meet the costs of the required investment.
In jobs, the solar industry could employ 9.7 million people by 2030, more than 10 times as many as it does today, and equal to the number currently employed in the coal industry.
Already, the seemingly major polluting countries are seeing the investment in renewables. In 2014, for the first time in 40 years, global energy-related CO2 emissions remained stable in spite of continued economic growth, thanks mainly to declining coal consumption in China.
Entrepreneurs -- from the university educated to the village Einsteins -- are coming up with clever ways to power and profit using nature's gift; and almost every day there's a "world first" -- from a completely solar powered airport to a country running (almost) completely on renewables.
We also know that renewables have the potential to power up (pun intended) economies, and our "Solarize Greece" crowd-funding campaign is an example of how we're helping to rid the country of the burden of fossil fuels that are holding it down economically and for Greece to fight its way back out of the crisis.
Slowly but surely the world is waking up to the stark reality that fossil fuels are a finite resource with renewables being an additional economic and employment boost. What's more is that there are no major economic or technical barriers to moving towards 100% renewable energy by 2050.
So, maybe the fantasy isn't so far off anymore.
ACTION: Welcome to the Climate Movement
Take action. Join the Energy [R]evolution!
Right now is the moment to join with millions of people across the globe and fix the climate and energy problems brought on by our reliance on coal, oil, nuclear and deforestation. Shifting our energy systems over to the power of the wind and the sun, and protection our forests, we can secure a future that is just, sustainable and prosperous.
We will go as far as our individual actions can take us, but to reach 100% renewables, it takes the will of our political and business leaders. We demand from those leaders concrete climate action and an energy system that works with us -- not against us.
They won't make the switch unless you ask!
Shuk-Wah Chung is a Content Editor at Greenpeace East Asia. Chung's reports was published on Greenpeace. Go to Original.
A Third American City Is Now
Running Entirely On Renewable Energy
Scott Keyes / ThinkProgress
(September 14, 2015) -- The number of American cities that run entirely on renewable energy is growing. Last week, the city of Aspen, Colorado declared it had become the third municipality to receive all of its power from renewable sources. Aspen's energy portfolio now primarily consists of wind power and hydroelectric, with smaller contributions from solar and geothermal.
The announcement came after the city's decade-long effort to shift toward renewable energy. David Hornbacher, Aspen's Utilities and Environmental Initiatives Director, told the Aspen Times that "It was a very forward-thinking goal and truly remarkable achievement."
Burlington, Vermont and Greensburg, Kansas were the first two cities to achieve all-renewable energy portfolios.
Aspen's new energy portfolio was made possible by the extraordinary drop in the price of renewable energy. The cost of solar has plunged in recent years, and the price is expected to drop below $0.50 per watt within a few years. Wind power has also become far cheaper than it was just a decade ago.
In addition, new regulations from the Obama administration that help internalize some of the pollution costs of fossil fuels are making energy sources like coal increasingly uncompetitive.
Already, more than one-third of American coal plants have been shuttered in the past six years, and the new carbon rules make it quite possible that no new coal plants will ever be built in the United States.
Though Aspen is not a large city -- just under 7,000 residents or so live there year-round -- Hornbacher told the Aspen Times that its achievement was symbolically important. "We've demonstrated that it is possible," he said. "Realistically, we hope we can inspire others to achieve these higher goals."
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