A new study suggests that the transition to a decarbonized energy system by 2050 is expected to save the world at least $12 trillion (£10.4 trillion).
The Oxford University research also shows a win-win scenario, in which a rapid transition to clean energy leads to lower energy system costs compared to the fossil fuel system, while providing more power to the global economy.
This would help expand access to energy for more people around the world.
The study’s “rapid transition” scenario shows a realistic potential future for a fossil-free energy system around 2050, providing 55 percent more energy services globally than today.
This will be achieved through ramping up solar, wind, batteries, electric vehicles and clean fuels such as green hydrogen.
A new study suggests that the transition to a decarbonized energy system by 2050 is expected to save the world at least $12 trillion (£10.4 trillion). This will be achieved through intensified solar energy (pictured), wind, batteries, electric vehicles, and clean fuels like green hydrogen.
The study’s ‘fast transition’ scenario shows a realistic potential future for a fossil-free energy system around 2050, providing 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 laid out his 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution, laying the foundations for a green economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19. The plan focuses on increasing ambition in the following areas:
- Offshore wind advances
- Drive the growth of low carbon hydrogen
- Delivering new and advanced nuclear energy
- Accelerating the transition to zero-emission vehicles
- Green public transport, cycling, walking
- Jet Zero and the Green Ships
- greener buildings
- Investing in carbon capture, use and storage
- Protecting our natural environment
- Green Finance and Innovation
Previous studies have argued that achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is impossible 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 has previously warned that families will bear a large part of this expense – up to £400 a year per household – by having to replace gas boilers and switch to electric cars, among other things.
The pledge caused outrage in Tory circles, with MPs warning that additional costs would hit low-income earners at the “red wall” that Conservatives vote.
However, both the United Kingdom and Finland have shown that it is possible to reduce emissions while developing their economies, as both showed this from 2010 to 2016.
The new study also indicates that removing carbon will not be as costly as some have suggested.
Lead author Dr Robert Way, a postdoctoral researcher at Oxford University’s Smith School for Enterprise and the Environment, said: ‘Previous models, which have predicted high costs for the transition to zero-carbon energy, have prevented companies from investing, and have made governments nervous about developing 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 predicted.
Our latest research shows that scaling up key green technologies will continue to lower their costs – and the faster we go, the more we will save.
“Accelerating the transition to renewable energy is now your best bet not just for the planet, but for energy costs as well.”
The researchers analyzed thousands of transition cost scenarios produced by major 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 real cost of solar fell at twice the fastest rate of the most ambitious projections in these models, and revealed that over the past 20 years, previous models had poorly overestimated the future costs of major clean energy technologies against reality.
The study showed that the costs of key storage technologies, such as batteries and hydrogen electrolysis, are likely to fall dramatically
Oxford University research also shows a win-win scenario, in which a rapid transition to clean energy leads to lower energy system costs compared to the fossil fuel system, while providing more power to the global economy.
Professor Duane Farmer, who leads the team that conducted the study at Oxford Martin School, said: ‘There is a widespread misconception that the transition to clean and green energy will be painful, costly and sacrifices for all of us – but that is just a mistake. .
Renewable energy costs have been declining 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 nearly all applications in the coming years.
And if we speed up the transition, it will get cheaper faster.
“Replacing fossil fuels entirely with clean energy by 2050 will save us trillions of dollars.”
The study showed that the costs of key storage technologies, such as batteries and hydrogen electrolysis, are also likely to fall dramatically.
Meanwhile, nuclear energy costs have consistently risen over the past five decades, making it unlikely to be cost-competitive as renewable energy and storage costs fall.
This study, conducted prior to the current crisis, takes into account such fluctuations using fossil fuel price data over a century ago.
Professor Farmer added: “The world is facing a simultaneous inflation crisis, a national security crisis and a climate crisis, all due to our dependence on high-cost, unsafe and polluting fossil fuels with volatile prices.
This study shows that ambitious policies to dramatically accelerate the transition to a clean energy future as quickly as possible are not only urgently needed for climate reasons, but can save the world trillions in future energy costs, giving us a cleaner, cheaper, and more secure energy future.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, fossil energy costs have skyrocketed, causing inflation worldwide.
This study, conducted prior to the current crisis, takes into account such fluctuations using more than a century of fossil fuel price data.
The researchers say the current energy crisis confirms the study’s findings and illustrates the dangers of continuing to rely on expensive and unsafe fossil fuels.
They added that the response to the crisis should include accelerating the transition to low-cost, clean energy as quickly as possible, as this would bring benefits to both the economy and the planet.
The new research has been published in the journal Joule.
Solar Energy Explanation: Energy from sunlight is converted into electricity
Solar panels convert energy from the sun into electrical energy (stock image)
Solar energy is the conversion of energy from sunlight into electricity.
There are two methods of generating solar energy.
Photovoltaic cells — the type of solar panel you might see included in a calculator — are able to convert light directly into electrical energy.
However, in CSP systems, mirrors or lenses are used first to collect and focus sunlight that falls over a large area – producing heat that can be used to power steam turbines and generate electricity.
The productivity of solar panels depends on the sunlight they receive at a particular location – a factor that depends on both latitude and climate.
Optimal locations for solar farms include arid tropics and subtropics, where deserts at these low latitudes are often clear and exposed to 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 the world’s electricity production in 2017, and it is growing at a rate of 35 percent each year.