Aug. 2, 2019

GLOBAL ENERGY SYSTEM BASED ON 100% RENEWABLE ENERGY Power, Heat, Transport and Desalination Sectors

This research study undertaken by Finland’s LUT University (LUT) and the Energy Watch Group (EWG) presents a first of its kind technology-rich, multisector, multi-region and cost-optimal global energy transition pathway. Led by Dr. Christian Breyer, a group of 14 of the world’s leading energy transition scientists conducted the study over a period of four and a half years. It is over 300 pages long, but the executive summary reports promising policies and techniques for carbon neutrality. 

The study showcases that a global 100% renewable energy system can be achieved with zero GHG emissions before 2050 and more cost-effectively than the current fossil fuel and nuclear-based energy system. Solar photovoltaics (PV) and wind energy emerge as the new workhorses of the future global energy system. Solar PV emerges as the most prominent electricity supply source accounting for approximately 69% of the total energy supply by 2050, complemented by wind energy at 18%, hydropower at 3% and bioenergy at 6%. This translates to a total installed capacity of approximately 63,400 gigawatts of solar PV and 8,000 gigawatts of wind energy across the world by 2050. PV prosumers will drive a more decentralized energy transition across the different regions of the world, contributing to approximately 19% of electricity generation. Low-cost renewable energy supply enables electrification across the power, heat, transport and desalination sectors. A 100% renewable energy system is more efficient and cost competitive than the current fossil fuel and nuclear power based system.

We need to change the conversation: A transition to a global 100% renewable energy system is no longer a matter of technical feasibility or economic viability, but one of political will. Not only do we need ambitious targets, but also stable, long-term, and reliable policy frameworks, adapted to regional conditions and environments. We call on the global community to urgently pursue a forward-looking pathway towards net zero GHG emissions by launching a rapid change of the way we use natural resources and provide electricity, heat and transport. Hans-Josef Fell

100% renewable energy is cheaper than the current energy system in the long term.

  • · The leveled cost of energy for a fully sustainable global energy system will be slightly cheaper than for the current system. When taking into account negative externalities of the current system, which have been cited in numerous other contemporary studies, the 100% renewable global energy system is a substantially cheaper option.
  • · A 100% renewable energy system provides a win-win for the global community at large; with both economic and environmental benefits.
  • · Major regions can realize a substantial cost reduction including Middle East and North Africa (-31%), North America (-22%), South America (-34%), and Europe (-15%), while achieving zero emissions by 2050.
  • · It can be concluded from the results that the transition eliminates international energy dependencies and helps to solve energy-related conflicts.
  • · A trend develops where the leveled cost of energy becomes increasingly dominated by capital costs, as fuel costs lose importance through the transition period.
  • · Investments in the energy sector increase through the transition and are spread across a variety of technologies with major investments in solar PV, wind energy, batteries, heat pumps, and synthetic fuel conversion
  • · In contrast to popular claims, a deep decarbanization  of the power and heat sectors is possible by 2030. The transport sector will lag behind, with a massive decline of greenhouse gas emissions from 2030 to 2050

Ram M., Bogdanov D., Aghahosseini A., Gulagi A., Oyewo A.S., Child M., Caldera U., Sadovskaia K., Farfan J., Barbosa LSNS., Fasihi M., Khalili S., Dalheimer B., Gruber G., Traber T., De Caluwe F., Fell H.-J., Breyer C. Global Energy System based on 100% Renewable Energy – Power, Heat, Transport and Desalination Sectors. Study by Lappeenranta University of Technology and Energy Watch Group, Lappeenranta, Berlin, March 2019. ISBN: 978-952-335-339-8 ISSN-L: 2243-3376 ISSN: 2243-3376 Lappeenranta University of Technology Research Reports 91. ISSN: 2243-3376 Lappeenranta 2019