100% renewables is no longer more expensive than the current energy system

The new study by the Energy Watch Group and LUT University is the first of its kind to outline a 1.5°C scenario with a cost-effective, cross-sectoral, technology-rich global 100% renewable energy system that does not build on negative CO2 emission technologies. The scientific modelling study simulates a total global energy transition in the electricity, heat, transport and desalination sectors by 2050. It is based on four and a half years of research and analysis of data collection, as well as technical and financial modelling by 14 scientists. This proves that the transition to 100% renewable energy is economically competitive with the current fossil and nuclear-based system, and could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the energy system to zero even before 2050.

The study concludes with political recommendations for a rapid integration of renewable energy and zero greenhouse gas emission technologies. Among the most important measures suggested by the report are promoting sector coupling, private investments (which should ideally be incentivised with fixed feed-in tariffs), tax breaks and legal privileges with simultaneous discontinuation of subsidies for coal and fossil fuels. According to the report, the transition to a global energy system based on 100% renewables can be achieved before 2050 if a strong policy framework is implemented.

Some key findings of the study:

The transition to 100% renewable energy requires comprehensive electrification in all energy sectors. The total electricity generation will be four to five times higher than electricity generation in 2015. Accordingly, electricity consumption in 2050 will account for more than 90% of the primary energy consumption. At the same time, consumption of fossil and nuclear energy resources in all sectors will cease completely.

  • The global primary energy generation in the 100% renewable energy system will consist of the following mix of energy sources: solar energy (69%), wind power (18%), hydropower (3%), bioenergy (6%) and geothermal energy (2%).
  • By 2050, wind and solar power will account for 96% of the total power supply of renewable energy sources. Renewable energies are produced virtually exclusively from decentralised local and regional generation.
  • 100% renewables are more cost-effective: The energy costs for a fully sustainable energy system will decrease from € 54/MWh in 2015 to € 53/MWh in 2050.
  • The transition in all sectors will reduce the annual greenhouse gas emissions in the energy sector continuously from roughly 30 GtCO2-eq. in 2015 to zero by 2050.
  • A 100%-renewable electricity system will employ 35 million people worldwide. The roughly 9 million jobs in the worldwide coal mining sector from 2015 will be phased out completely by 2050. They will be overcompensated by the over 15 million new jobs in the renewable energy sector.

Source: Energy Watch Group