New report proves 100% Renewable is achievable and affordable

Creative Commons American Public Power Association

A new scientific article debunks a number of myths used against renewable energy. The article is a response to a study in the same high ranking journal that doubted the feasibility of many of the recent scenarios for high shares of renewable energy, questioning everything from whether renewables-based systems can survive extreme weather events with low sun and low wind, to the ability to keep the grid stable with variable generation.

“There are some persistent myths that 100% renewable systems are not possible,” says Professor Brian Vad Mathiesen of Aalborg University, who is a co-author of the response. “Our contribution deals with these myths one-by-one, using all the latest research. 

In a review paper last year, Benjamin Heard and colleagues presented their case against 100% renewable electricity systems. But now scientists have hit back with their response to the points raised by Heard and colleagues. The researchers from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Delft University of Technology and Aalborg University have analysed hundreds of studies from across the scientific literature to answer each of the apparent issues. They demonstrate that there are no roadblocks on the way to a 100% renewable future.

“While several of the issues raised by the Heard paper are important, you have to realise that there are technical solutions to all the points they raised, using today’s technology,” says the lead author of the response, Dr. Tom Brown of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. “Furthermore, these solutions are absolutely affordable, especially given the sinking costs of wind and solar power,” says Professor Christian Breyer of Lappeenranta University of Technology, who co-authored the response.

The authors chose to rely heavily on not just the feasibility of renewable energy, but on its viability. As a result, they concluded that the 100% renewable energy scenarios proposed in the literature are not just feasible, but also viable. They did so by citing some 230 supporting scientific studies. 

Now let’s get back to the business of modelling low-cost scenarios to eliminate fossil fuels from our energy system, so we can tackle the climate and health challenges they pose. -- Brian Vad Mathiesen, Aalborg University

The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation has supported scientific research at Stanford University and now the University of Technology Sydney to better understand just how quickly the world could replace its current energy system, fed mostly by polluting fossil fuels, to clean, renewable energy. Current findings show that 100% renewables by 2050 is not only feasible, but also increases human health and lifts global GDP. 

Last updated May 22, 2018

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