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According to a new study, the transition to a low-carbon energy system by 2050 is expected to save the world at least $12 trillion (£10.4 trillion).
The research from the University of Oxford also shows a win-win-win scenario, where a rapid transition to clean energy results in lower energy system costs than a fossil fuel system, while the global economy gets more energy.
This would help expand access to energy for more people around the world.
The study’s ‘Fast Transition’ scenario shows a realistic possible future for a fossil-free energy system by 2050, providing 55 percent more energy services worldwide than today.
It would be achieved by ramping up solar, wind, batteries, electric vehicles and clean fuels such as green hydrogen.
According to a new study, the transition to a low-carbon energy system by 2050 is expected to save the world at least $12 trillion (£10.4 trillion). It would be achieved by ramping up solar energy (pictured), wind, batteries, electric vehicles and clean fuels such as green hydrogen
The study’s ‘Fast Transition’ scenario shows a realistic possible future for a fossil-free energy system by 2050, delivering 55 percent more energy services globally than today
The UK’s ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution
In 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson set his… 10 point plan for a green industrial revolution, laying the groundwork for a green economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19 The plan focuses on increasing ambition in the following areas:
- Advancing wind at sea
- Stimulating the growth of low-carbon hydrogen
- Delivering new and advanced nuclear power
- Accelerate the shift to zero-emission vehicles
- Green public transport, cycling and walking
- ‘Jet zero’ and green ships
- Greener buildings
- Investing in carbon capture, use and storage
- Protecting our natural environment
- Green finance and innovation
Previous studies have argued that it is impossible to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 without some disruption to global economies.
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson has committed to achieving ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by 2050 – a target that could cost £1.4 trillion.
The government previously warned that families would bear much of these costs – up to £400 a year per household – by, among other things, having to replace their gas boilers and switch to electric cars.
The pledge sparked anger in Tory circles, with MPs warning that the extra cost would hit lower earners in the Conservative-voting Red Wall.
However, both the UK and Finland have shown that it is possible to reduce emissions while growing their economies, and both have demonstrated this from 2010 to 2016.
The new study also suggests that decarbonization wouldn’t be expensive, as some have suggested.
Lead author Dr. Rupert Way, a postdoctoral researcher at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment in Oxford, said: “Past models predicting high costs for the transition to carbon-free energy have deterred companies from investing and made governments nervous about adopting of policies that will accelerate the energy transition and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
“But clean energy costs have fallen sharply over the past decade, much faster than those models expected.
“Our latest research shows that scaling up key green technologies will continue to drive down their costs – and the faster we go, the more we’ll save.
‘Accelerating the transition to renewable energy is now the best choice, not only for the planet, but also for energy costs.’
The researchers analyzed thousands of transition cost scenarios produced by large energy models and used data on 45 years of solar energy costs, 37 years of wind energy costs and 25 years of battery storage.
They found that the true cost of solar energy fell twice as fast as the most ambitious projections in these models, showing that previous models over the past 20 years have grossly overestimated the future costs of key clean energy technologies relative to reality.
The study showed that costs for key storage technologies, such as batteries and hydrogen electrolysis, are likely to fall dramatically
The University of Oxford research also shows a win-win-win scenario, where a rapid transition to clean energy results in lower energy system costs than a fossil fuel system, while the global economy gets more energy.
“There’s a widespread misconception that switching to clean, green energy will be painful, costly and big sacrifices for all of us — but that’s just wrong,” said Professor Doyne Farmer, who leads the team that conducted the research at Oxford Martin School. executed. .
‘The costs of renewable energy have been falling for decades. They are already cheaper than fossil fuels in many situations and our research shows that they will become cheaper than fossil fuels in almost all applications in the coming years.
‘And if we accelerate the transition, they will become cheaper faster.
‘If we completely replace fossil fuels with clean energy by 2050, we could save trillions.’
The study showed that costs for key storage technologies, such as batteries and hydrogen electrolysis, are also likely to fall dramatically.
Meanwhile, the cost of nuclear energy has been rising steadily over the past five decades, making it highly unlikely that it will be cost competitive with declining renewable energy and storage costs.
This study, conducted before the current crisis, takes into account such fluctuations using more than a century of fossil fuel data.
Professor Farmer added: ‘The world is facing a simultaneous inflationary crisis, national security crisis and climate crisis, all caused by our reliance on high cost, uncertain, polluting fossil fuels with volatile prices.
This study shows that ambitious policies to drastically accelerate the transition to a clean energy future as soon as possible are not only urgently needed for climate reasons, but can save the world trillions of future energy costs, giving us a cleaner, cheaper, more energy-secure future. ‘
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the cost of fossil fuels has skyrocketed, causing inflation worldwide.
This study, conducted before the current crisis, takes such fluctuations into account using more than a century of data on the price of fossil fuels.
The current energy crisis underscores the study’s findings and highlights the risks of continuing to rely on expensive, insecure fossil fuels, the researchers said.
They added that the response to the crisis should be to accelerate the transition to cheap, clean energy as soon as possible, as this will bring benefits to both the economy and the planet.
The new research is published in the journal Joules.
SOLAR ENERGY EXPLAINED: ENERGY IS CONVERTED FROM SUNLIGHT INTO ELECTRICITY
Solar panels convert energy from the sun into electrical power (stock image)
Solar energy is the conversion of energy from sunlight into electricity.
There are two methods of generating solar energy.
Photovoltaic solar cells — the kind of solar panel you might see built into a calculator — are capable of converting light directly into electrical current.
However, in concentrated solar systems, mirrors or lenses are first used to catch and focus the sunlight falling on a large area — creating heat that can be used to drive a steam turbine and generate electricity.
The productivity of solar panels is dependent on the sunlight they receive in a particular location – a factor that depends on both latitude and climate.
Optimal locations for solar parks are the arid tropics and subtropics, with deserts that lie at such low latitudes and are often cloudless and receive about 10 hours of sunlight each day.
According to NASA, the eastern part of the Sahara – the Libyan desert – is the sunniest place on Earth.
Solar energy accounted for 1.7 percent of global electricity production in 2017 and is growing by 35 percent each year.