Renewables could soon be cheaper than fossil fuels

Renewable energy sources could be cheaper than fossil fuels within just ten years, making the transition to a 100 per cent renewable energy future by mid-century is feasible, according to a UN-backed report.

2016 was the third year in a row where the global economy continued to grow but energy-related emissions decreased, said Christine Lins, the executive secretary of Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21). This success is largely due to investments in renewable energy and efficiency in China and the US.

Ms Lins made her remarks at the UN headquarters at a press conference on Monday at the launch of the Renewables Global Futures Report: Great debates toward 100 per cent renewable energy.

The REN21 report is based on interviews with 114 energy experts from around the world. Many of them expect that the cost of renewable energy sources will continue to fall and beat all fossil fuels within the next ten years. More than 70 per cent of the experts believe that a global transition to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050 is both feasible and realistic, with solar energy expected to play a key role in the future renewable energy supply.

But the report also warns that there are still a number of challenges in the way of achieving the 100 per cent transition. One is resistance by the energy industry, which continues to cling to conventional production forms. Another is that the transport sector still lacks technologies to make energy-intensive freight transport renewable. The decarbonisation of air transport and shipping also require more research.

As Arthouros Zervos, the chair of REN21, noted, the future of renewable energy looked very different in 2004 when REN21 was founded. “At that time, calls for 100 per cent renewable energy were not taken seriously, today the world’s leading energy experts are engaged in rational discussions about its feasibility, and in what time frame.”

Photo credit: jervert, flickr/Creative Commons

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