A joint study published in April, 2019 by researchers at the Lappeenranta University of Technology and the Berlin-based energy non-profit Energy Watch Group brings a fresh perspective to the discussion of sustainable energy production. This discussion has long stuttered along haltingly as experts, regulators, and energy companies debate the realistic potential of achieving fully renewable production to cover all the globe’s energy demands. With this new study, dedicated to the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg and the movement of young people she has inspired the world-over, the researchers at LUT and Energy Watch Group bring a soundly analytical perspective founded in research and an understanding of the global demands for energy production to their argument for how we can achieve a full transition to 100% renewable energy, and end up spending less on energy than we do today.

The study assesses the need for energy in the arenas of power, heat, transport, and water desalination, basing their vision for a transition to 100% renewable energy before 2050 on the existing renewable energy potential and technologies which can help realize and store the necessary capacity. The report also accounts for an expected increase in the globe’s population, from 7.2 billion to 9.7 billion, and the resultant growth in energy demand, 1.8% annually. In their vision, electricity will account for more than 90% of primary energy demand in the year 2050 with the remainder being covered by electricity-based or biofuels. The study’s authors envision solar and wind energy accounting for a combined 86% of all electricity, 69% and 18% respectively, while biomass and waste, 6%, hydro, 3%, and geothermal, 2%, sources make up the rest. Having realized this transition, the energy system will also decline in cost, going from a cost of €54/MWh in 2015 to €53/MWh in 2050, a reduction which includes the elimination of negative externalities such as incentives and subsidies for fossil fuels and traditional forms of energy production.

With this study, the authors offer a new perspective for discussions of energy decarbonization and set an ambitious goal to guide world governments in helping to realize these targets and those set in the Paris Agreement.

Read the full study

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