The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

Pathways to 100 Percent Renewable Energy

Reaching the goal of getting 100 percent of the world's energy from renewable resources is technically and economically feasible today. The challenges lie in the realms of public policy and political will, as well as in finance, market development, and business development.

That was the message delivered by numerous distinguished energy experts in San Francisco on April 16th at Pathways to 100 Percent Renewable Energy, the first international conference specifically focused on accelerating the transition to 100 percent renewable energy.

Citing a number of recent authoritative energy studies, Dr. Dave Renne, President of the International Solar Energy Society said all the studies agree that there are no technical barriers to getting 100 percent of our energy from renewable resources. Their technical potential, he said, “far exceeds even our wildest future (demand) projections.”

Some renewable technologies in themselves are sufficient to supply 100 percent of the world’s energy demand by themselves, though of course this would not be an optimal global energy solution. Professor Alexa Lutzenberger from the University of Leuphana, Germany noted that the world could meet 100 percent of its energy needs just from biomass fuels and biogas.

This versatile fuel can be used to produce power, or power and heat in a combined heat and power plant.  It can also be used to produce biodiesel or other fuels, such as biomethane and bioethanol. When cleaned, biogas can utilize the world’s vast natural gas pipeline infrastructure.

Germany now has some 8,000 mostly small agricultural biogas plants which afford farmers the opportunity to become energy independent and enjoy relatively stable, reasonably priced energy.

100 Percent Renewables Possible for the Planet

Marc Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering discussed his landmark 2009 feasibility study for completely powering the planet with “wind, water, and solar (WWS).”

Jacobson said that 2.5-3 million people die prematurely from fossil fuel air pollution worldwide each year and that cumulativly, 100 million people have perished from air pollution over the past 100 years.

Referring to climate change, growing global population, rising energy demand, and air pollution, Jacobson said, “These are drastic problems, and they require drastic solutions.”

He found that by producing 100 percent of the planet’s energy from a mix of wind, concentrating solar, geothermal, tidal power, photovoltaics, wave power, and hydroelectricity, air pollution deaths would be eliminated along with the emission of climate-disturbing greenhouse gases generated from fossil fuels.

Global energy use would also decline sharply.  Just by replacing the fuels in the global energy mix with electricity, Jacobson found that total energy demand would decline 32 percent by 2030, even without accounting for energy efficiency measures that would also be adopted.

In the U.S., the study found that a similar shift to electricity and electrolytic hydrogen would cut primary energy demand by 37 percent, also before other efficiency measures. The switch would reduce California’s energy demand by 44 percent, largely as a result of converting the transportation sector to more efficient electric propulsion. 

Jacobson did not recommend nuclear power, coal with carbon capture, natural gas, or biofuels that involve combustion and may release air pollutants and carbon dioxide. 

Under the plan’s assumptions, electricity costs would fall compared with fossil fuel power and more new jobs would be created than lost in the energy transition. Global energy security and price stability would both be vastly enhanced and the renewable facilities needed would require only 0.4% of the world’s land.

New York

Jacobson also reported on a new Stanford University study he led recently which contends that it would be technically and economically feasible for New York State to get all its energy from renewable sources by 2030. RenewableEnergyWorld.com reported on that study here and there is an active discussion following the article. Jacobson said that, if implemented successfully, the plan would save money, energy, and create jobs while reducing the health impacts and costs of air pollution in New York.

Renewables in California

Also at the conference, Stephen Berberich, President and CEO of the California Independent System Operator Corp. said that today’s power industry won’t be recognizable by 2050. The vast majority of the state’s energy demand will by then be met by renewable energy, and the utility industry will be completely transformed.

Many homes will be effectively off the grid, doing their own generation, and using their own energy storage systems.  Berberich expects that the largest power consuming sector in the California economy in 2050 will likely be the state’s transportation fleet, which by then will be electrified to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Berberich said that the move to renewables will be driven by economic imperatives, the development of new technology, and concern over climate change. “The costs of distributed technologies are falling dramatically.”

Berberich himself said he pays about 35 cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity at his home in the PG&E service territory but that he can get a solar array for 20 cents a kilowatt-hour. “Why wouldn’t I do that?” he asked.

Customers in the future will enjoy transparent pricing and, with the help of online applications and advanced networking devices, “will be able to see, shape, and control their energy usage,” he said. 

During the transition to a renewable energy powered economy, Berberich cautioned that ramping renewables up too quickly could drive costs up and provoke a backlash. “If a rate bomb goes off, there’s going to be a hue and cry,” he warned.  Likewise, problems with system reliability would also undermine progress toward 100 percent renewable energy.

Dr. Eric Martinot, senior research director at the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies provided the conference with a summary of the Renewables Global Futures Report produced by REN21, a global, multi-stakeholder network of experts from many sectors of society, seeking to accelerate the global transition to renewable energy.

Based on the opinions of 170 leading experts and 50 energy scenarios, the report forecasts rapid increases in global investment in renewable energy supply, accompanied by continued declines in cost and advances in technology. Global investment in renewable energy was $260 billion in 2011 and, according to the report, may reach $400-500 billion by 2020.

While recognizing that challenges remain in integrating renewable energy into utility power grids, buildings, transport, and industries, the report concludes that the primary challenges, “relate to practices, policies, institutions, business models, finance,” and other factors.

The report takes note of a growing number of regions, cities, towns, and communities that are planning to eventually become 100 percent reliant on renewable energy. Rather than expecting renewables just to fit within modestly restructured existing energy systems, it envisions the co-evolution of renewable technologies over time into profoundly transformed new energy systems.

More information about the Pathways to 100 Percent Renewable Energy conference and its sponsor, the Renewables 100 Policy Institute, can be found at www.go100percent.org.  Organizers are planning to post videos of the conference on the website in the near future.

Lead image: Dirty vs clean energy via Shutterstock

Untitled Document

Get All the Renewable Energy World News Delivered to Your Inbox

Subscribe to Renewable Energy World or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest news and information.

 Subscribe Now

RELATED ARTICLES

Solar water heating

California Regulators Propose Expansion of Eligibility Requirements for Solar Water Heating Program

Jennifer Delony The California Public Utilities Commission has proposed expanding the eligibility requirements for customers seeking ...
Solar

Florida Supreme Court Takes Up Solar Question

Wayne Barber Because Florida remains one of only four states where current laws expressly deny citizens and businesses the freedom...
solar net metering

Lithuanian Net Metering Hits Snag from Outset

Linas Jegelevicius The much anticipated net metering in Lithuania has hit a major snag from the very start – the introduced network oper...
Solar energy

Colorado PUC Orders No Changes to Solar Net Metering

Vince Font In what is being lauded as a “fair outcome” for consumers, utilities and the solar industry alike, the Colorado Publi...

PRESS RELEASES

Canadian Solar Wins Five Solar Power Projects Totaling 185 MW in Brazil

These power projects were won under a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the B...

$100 Off of 5-day Advanced PV Project Experience. Download a Topic Schedule.

Assemble, ground, energize, and commission a complete grid-tied SolarEdge system from s...

Intersolar AWARD „Solar Projects in India“ – Applications being accepted until September 18

The Intersolar AWARD in the category Solar Projects in India honors projects in the fie...

National Thought Leaders to Present on Today's Clean Energy Issues & Trends During IREC's 3iForum at Solar Power International

"An encore to the standing-room-only sessions the past two years, IREC again brings som...

FEATURED BLOGS

Washington, DC Bridges the Solar Gap

The District of Columbia has enjoyed 15 years of strong economic growth. But prosperity is spread unevenly across the...

Sell Through Hypothesis

You first learned to hypothesize, or make educated guesses, in grade school science class. Now it’s time to ref...

Cronimet / THEnergy study: In solar for mines size does not always matter - Reducing CAPEX with energy efficiency and load shifting

Munich, September 2015. Mining companies are constantly gaining interest in solar solutions because frequently solar ...

Final Program Now Available for GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo

GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo - Final Program from

FINANCIAL NEWS

John J. Berger, Ph.D. is an energy and environmental policy expert whose many books include Climate Myths: The Campaign Against Climate Science, Climate Peril: The Intelligent Reader’s Guide to Understanding the Climate Crisis (forthcoming) and C...

CURRENT MAGAZINE ISSUE

Volume 18, Issue 4
1507REW_C11

STAY CONNECTED

To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:

SOCIAL ACTIVITY

Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon

FEATURED PARTNERS



EVENTS

Successfully Integrating Solar: A Proactive Approach

•      What does the increasing solar penetrati...

Doing Business in Europe – in partnership with GWEC, the Global Win...

There is now 128.8 GW of installed wind energy capacity in the EU (appro...

Doing Business in South Africa – in partnership with GWEC, the Glob...

Wind Energy in South Africa has been expanding dramatically, growing fro...

COMPANY BLOGS

Sell Through Hypothesis

You first learned to hypothesize, or make educated guesses, in grade sch...

Vacancy? No Problem!

Have you ever tried to sell an efficiency product or service to a prospe...

Final Program Now Available for GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal...

GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo - Final Program f...

NEWSLETTERS

Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now  

 

FEATURED PARTNERS