100% of renewable energy: a dream or the present day realities?
Every day one can hear the theme of renewable energy (RESs) at the negotiations in Marrakech. Two years of crashing prices for oil, natural gas, and coal triggered dramatic downsizing in those industries, while renewables have been thriving. Clean energy investments broke new records in 2015 and is now seeing twice as much global funding as fossil fuels.
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On November 15, at a special event of the COP22 Conference in Marrakech called “100% RESs for 1.50 C” a dialogue took place; it showed that movement in the direction of 100% RESs promises tangible benefits to each and everyone, be that an ordinary rural community, business, or a city. The International Energy Agency announced that we are witnessing transformation of the global energy markets into markets of renewable energy because more than one half of new energy capacities commissioned last year are supplied with power from renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar energy, which for the first time ever had outproduced fossil fuels.
Ditching fossil fuels and going fully renewable could save 100,000 lives a year in China, create 470,000 clean jobs in the US and save the EU $33 billion a year in dirty energy imports.
The COP22 host country Morocco has within a few years transformed itself into a Renewable Energy leader and is now saving on fossil fuel imports, invigorates the economy, enhances the quality of life in rural communities and helps to tackle climate change.
On the map showing the percentage of RESs in various countries and continents, Russia’s renewable energy percentage is not indicated. However, in the opinion of Olga Senova, Climate Secretariat of the Russian Social and Ecological Union (RSEU), Russia certainly has its certain RESs potential, as it has a demand for decentralized power sources for many hundred thousand settlements. The RSEU public report “RESs Development in Russian Regions: Barriers and Points of Growth” shows the experience in RESs implementation, when they had replaced imported fossil fuels, bringing in both environmental and social/economic benefits. In the opinion of Russian non-governmental environmental organizations, refocusing subsidies from fossil fuels to RESs can significantly accelerate the transfer of the country onto the clean no-carbon way of development.
A day earlier, based on the results of one of the COP22 events, Infoclimate.org source presented an overview of opinions on the feasibility of 100% renewable energy.
REN21 representative Lora Williamson told at this event that the REN21 report showed the following: in 2015, the total amount of power produced by RESs had increased by 147 GB, while of the total world energy consumption RESs quota amounted to 19,2%. Investments in this area keep coming. However, Lora stressed that transfer to 100% RESs should be systematic and concern not only businesses but also public, education, and policies.
Kaisa Kosonen (Greenpeace) pointed out that 100% transfer to RESs before 2050 is considered as the only possibility to avoid dire consequences of the climate change. Transport and heating supply are considered the most difficult for the 100% transfer.
In 2014, 60% of the new electrical power was produced by RESs which helped the sharp fall in prices. Nowadays, the solar and wind power production can very well compete with the coal-based energy. At the same time, the renewable energy production receives only one half of the annual financing as compared to the one based on fossil fuels. Despite this fact, already in 15 years, the RESs quota in the power industry might grow up from the present 21% to 64%. There are no technical or economic barriers for the 100% transfer to RESs, and only the political will is needed.
A representative of the Swedish Parliament told about the Sweden’s plans to transfer to 100% RESs before 2040 and become absolutely “fossil free” before 2050. He acknowledged that RESs are the most difficult task for the industry but specialists, particularly in the steel industry, believe in such possibility. Sweden is planning to resolve the heating problem to a big extent at the account of the biomass. It is interesting that Swedish economy has grown by 60% since 1990, while the country has remained dedicated to its environmental orientation through the entire period. The speaker considers the nation-wide mobilization of public, achieved at the account of educational enlightenment, as the major component of this success.
The capital of Australia, Canberra, is planning to transfer its entire power supply to RESs before 2020! Right now, they have the period of active financing and installation of turbine towers. It has been foreseen that if companies benefit surplus profits, a part of it will be transferred to the state. Such innovation will allow to fix energy prices within the following 20 years.
100% of renewable energy in all sectors might help all countries to upgrade their productions, galvanize their growth in the more and more low-carbon global economy, while the general trend in the direction of clean decentralized power supply of the regions and villages may give a rapid enhancement of access to electricity, provide safety, and improve key indicators of the social and economic development.