100% Renewable Energy Across Europe Is More Cost-Effective Than The Current Energy System, Clean Technica, February 8th, 2019
Excerpt…Energy Watch Group and LUT University combined their resources to work on a new research that proves the feasibility of a European energy transition to 100% renewable sources. The study has simulated a full energy transition in Europe across the power, heat, transport, and desalination sectors by 2050 and shows that the transition to 100% renewable energy will be economically competitive with today’s conventional fossil fuel and nuclear energy system. It will also lead greenhouse gas emissions to zero before 2050. So next time someone tells you that 100% renewables are not economically viable, just send him/her/them here.
“This report demonstrates that Europe can switch to a zero-emission energy system. Therefore, European leaders can and should do much more for climate protection than what is currently on the table.” — Hans-Josef Fell
So what does the study show?
Here comes the technical part. First, this transition will require mass electrification across all energy sectors. It is planned that total power generation will exceed four to five times that of 2015, with electricity constituting for more than 85% of primary energy demand in 2050. In this scenario, fossil fuels and nuclear are completely phased out across all sectors.
One of the most important findings of that research is that 100% renewable energy is not more expensive than our current system: The levelized cost of energy for a fully sustainable energy system in Europe remains stable, ranging from 50–60€/MWh through the transition.
Electricity generation in the 100% renewable energy system would consist of 62% solar photovoltaic, 32% wind energy, 4% hydropower, 2% bioenergy, and less than 1% geothermal energy.
“The most important pillar of the climate protection strategy is not to reduce GHG, but to stop them altogether,” reminded Hans-Josef Fell. In fact, according to this groundbreaking study, Europe’s annual greenhouse gas emissions would decline steadily through the transition, from approximately 4200 MtCO2 eq. in 2015 to zero by 2050 across all sectors.
Last but not least “new jobs in renewables will over-compensate the lost jobs in fossil fuel sectors” explained Hans-Josef Fell, as a 100% renewable power system will employ 3 to 3.5 million people. The approximate 800,000 jobs in the European coal industry of 2015 would therefore be zeroed out by 2050, and would be overcompensated by more than 1.5-million new jobs in the renewable energy sector.
“The results of the study showcase that the current goals set forth under the Paris Agreement can and should be accelerated,” said Dr. Christian Breyer, professor for solar economy at Finland’s LUT University, “The transition to 100% clean, renewable energy is very realistic, right now, with the technology we have available today.”
The study concludes with policy recommendations to promote a swift uptake of renewable energy and zero-emissions technology adoption. Among the measures promoted in the report is the support of sector coupling, private investments, tax benefits and legal privileges, with a simultaneous phase out of coal and fossil fuel subsidies. “We should sanction energy companies producing Greenhouse Gases through fossil fuels and nuclear and we need more research, education and training towards a clean energy transition. Education is very important, not only in schools but also for the politicians, for the managers, for the media,” explains Hans-Josef Fell.
“This report demonstrates that Europe can switch to a zero-emission energy system. Therefore, European leaders can and should do much more for climate protection than what is currently on the table” he adds .By implementing strong political frameworks, the report shows that a transition to 100% renewable energy could even be realised earlier than 2050.
Barcelona, Masdar City, Munich, Vancouver, San Franciscso, Copenhagen, Sydney, San Diego, Downtown Doha, these are some of the cities who have already committed to 100% renewable energy targets. “The energy transition is not a question of technology feasibility or economics, it is only a question of political will,” assured Hans-Josef Fell. There are no technological barriers, no excuses.
Earlier, 2016 work by the institute:
A new model developed by Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) shows how an electricity system mainly based on solar and wind works in all regions of the world. It shows the functioning of an electricity system that fulfils the targets set by the Paris agreement by using only renewable energy sources.
The global Internet of Energy Model visualizes a 100 percent renewable energy system (100%RE) for the electricity sector for 2030. It can do this for the entire world which, in the model, has been structured into 145 regions, which are all visualised, and aggregated to 9 major world regions.
“With the simulation, anyone can explore what a renewable electricity system would look like. This is the first time scientists have been able to do this on a global scale.” says Christian Breyer, LUT Solar Economy Professor and a leading scientist behind the model.
The model is designed to find the most economical solution for a renewable electricity system. The model shows how the supply of electricity can be organised to cover the electricity demand for all hours of the year. This means that best mix of renewable energy generation, storage and transmission components can be found to cover the electricity demand, leading to total electricity cost roughly between 55 and 70 euros per megawatt-hour for all 9 major regions in the world.
But the story does not end here. The researchers have ambitious goals to develop the model further. Future upgrades will go from looking only at the electricity sector to showing the full energy sector, including heat and mobility sectors. The model will also describe how to transition from the current energy system towards a fully sustainable one.
According to the researchers the model debunks myths about what renewables can and cannot achieve. One of the myths is that a fully renewable energy system cannot possibly run stable for all hours of the year, due to the intermittent character of solar and wind energy. Another myth is the idea that without large base load generation capacities, such as coal or nuclear plants, an electricity system cannot work. According to the researchers, both of these are incorrect and the facts can be checked from the model.
“My hope is that we can finally stop debating about these myths. The visualisation shows exactly how a fully renewable electricity system operates. So let’s just build it,” emphasizes Pasi Vainikka, Principal Scientist from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd
Transparency of the data and research is very important for the researchers. Anyone can download the result data for further inspection. The publications based on the data are available online.
“We want the model to give every citizen the chance to familiarise themselves with a renewable energy system. Increased knowledge usually lowers the resistance towards new developments,” says Vainikka.
Researchers hope that this can facilitate fact-based discourse on global energy transition.
“Every country in the world has to find pathways to achieve the Paris agreement targets and to avoid stranded assets. This model can provide the help for policy-makers, industrial decision-makers and societal stakeholders to do that,” emphasizes Breyer.
Professor Breyer will present the simulation for the first time on Friday the 4th at the World Clean Energy Conference (WCEC) hosted by the United Nations in Geneva.
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