100% Renewable Energy – A Roadmap For 2050

A 100% renewable energy decarbonized energy system could be achieved by 2050.
Published: Fri 25 Sep 2015

Coinciding with publication of  our commentary on putting 100% renewable energy more widely on energy agendas, a new report was released by Greenpeace setting out a potential route to achieving this target by 2050. [Engerati-Put 100% Renewables On The Agenda]

Produced in partnership with the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and SolarPower Europe, and with modelling from the DLR Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics, Systems Analysis and Technology Assessment in Stuttgart, the report projects that investments in the sector of about US$1.23 trillion annually towards a “dynamically growing renewable energy market” would provide a cost-neutral approach towards a 2050 100% renewable target.

Decarbonizing energy

Under this scenario, which should see global CO2 emissions stabilised by 2020, back to 1990 levels by 2030 and close to zero by 2050, the renewable share in energy generation is projected at 31% by 2020 and 58% by 2030. This up from 21% in 2012 and while the majority of this is hydropower, this would quickly be overtaken by wind, solar, geothermal and ocean energy, together accounting for about two-thirds of the energy generation by 2050.

Essential to the scenario is energy efficiency gains, particularly in the heating sector through energy-related building renovations and highly efficient air conditioning systems.

Smart grids, demand side management, energy storage capacities and other options also would need to be expanded in order to increase the flexibility of the power system for grid integration, load balancing and a secure supply of electricity.

The report also considers the impacts on employment, finding that with these there would be 35.5 million energy sector jobs in 2020, increasing to 46.1 million jobs in 2030.

Policies to achieve 100% renewables

According to the report there are no economic or technical barriers to move to 100% renewable energy in the long-term, and it just requires political will – starting with a strong agreement at the upcoming UNFCCC Paris climate conference. In addition to making the commitment to move to 100% renewables by 2050, this should include:

• A 5-year cycle process of deepening country commitments starting in 2020

• A legally binding protocol, including common accounting rules for mitigation and finance

• Commitment to phase-out all subsidies – both for production and consumption – for fossil fuels by 2020

• Strong commitment for adaptation, finance and loss and damage

• Agreement to bring down emissions by 2020.

Businesses go 100% renewable

Under the RE100 initiative of the Climate Group, businesses are committing to running on 100% renewables. The latest to join up this week include Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, NIKE, Inc., Procter & Gamble, Starbucks and Walmart – bringing to a total 36 companies who have made the commitment over the past year since the initiative launch.

Others among these include IKEA Group, Swiss Re, BT Group, Nestlé, Philips and Unilever. 

The campaign was launched in the US and subsequently has been rolled out in Europe, India and China, although is not exclusive to these countries. Engerati will monitor progress.

Further reading

Greenpeace: Energy [R]evolution 2015. 100% Renewable Energy for All