“Every man has a place, in his heart there's a space, And the world can't erase his fantasies”, Opening lyrics of the song Fantasy by Earth, Wind & Fire As every child does, I too had my childhood fantasies. Most of it had to do with me becoming a scientist and making machines that could let me fly wherever I wanted to, whenever I wanted to. I think it was because I loathed travelling in unreserved in trains and in overcrowded public buses, crushed amongst a million people, or so it seemed when you are three feet tall. My sisters would give me an indulgent smile every time I expressed this fantasy, and told them that I have a set of powerful angels who would make this possible one day.
It pleased me no end when I read about the experiments with personal autonomous drones…my angels came through! Of course, my fantasies continued into my adult life too, and as I became interested in sustainability and climate change, my fantasies shifted and I dreamt of a world powered by renewable energy completely! Every time I expressed it to some of my industry colleagues, they would again smile indulgently and ask me to stop dreaming. But this fantasy is also coming true…I realise now that I have a group of very powerful angels, who make all my fantasies come true!
New research published on the sidelines of the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP23 in Bonn, Germany by the Lappeenranta University of Technology has now proven it is no longer just a dream but a viable reality for the planet to be powered completely by renewable energy. The cherry on tip of this fantasy cake is that it is also more cost- effective than the current fossil fuel-reliant system.
The new study — Global Energy System based on 100% Renewable Energy – Power Sector — was conducted by the Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) and the Energy Watch Group (EWG) was presented during the Global Renewable Energy Solutions Showcase event (GRESS), at Cop 23 in the first week of this month. The University has published results which highlight the potential case for a 100% Russia and Central Asia by 2030, a 100% South America by 2030, a 100% Iran and Middle East by 2030, India by 2050, and its biggest accomplishment, a successful model of a 100% renewable energy planetary system.
X. Lua, M. B. McElroya, and J. Kiviluomac, two Harvard and a Finnish scholar in 2009 found that, even under conservative assumptions, global wind power potential is enormous. Their analysis published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, indicates that a network of land-based wind turbines operating at as little as 20 percent of their rated capacity could supply more than 40 times current worldwide electricity consumption, and more than 5 times total global use of energy.
Energy experts Ken Zweibel, James Mason, and Vasilis Fthenakis in a December 2007 article “A Solar Grand Plan”, say the solar energy striking the Earth in a 40-minute period is equal to all the energy human society consumes in a year. So, we have enough raw material, and when combined with technological expertise would result in a levelised cost of electricity on a global average for 100% renewable electricity in 2050 of $60/MWh compared to $81/MWh in 2015. A transition along these lines would reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector down to zero, driven by solar PV, accounting for 69% of the total energy mix in 2050, followed by wind with 18%, hydropower with 8%, and bioenergy with 2%.
“A full decarbonisation of the electricity system by 2050 is possible for lower system cost than today based on available technology,” explained Christian Breyer, lead author of the study, LUT Professor of Solar Economy and Chairman of the EWG Scientific Board. “Energy transition is no longer a question of technical feasibility or economic viability, but of political will.”
So now, it now all depends on whether we can garner enough political to make this fantasy come true. The planet needs all the politicians to put their head down and make it happen…Hmmm a big task this will be. Guess I have set my angels to work again!