If you follow clean energy and climate change, you’ve noticed that renewable energy advocacy has reached a feverish pitch. But have you ever wondered this: If we heed the call for rapid deployment of clean energy technologies, can we meet our growing demand for energy and can we do it in time to avert climate chaos? Two reports out last month answer that question with a resounding YES.
The World Wildlife Federation commissioned an in-depth study of our capacity to supply the world with a sustainable supply of energy, taking into account population growth and the development of Third World economies. The study concludes that, if the world invests 3% of GDP in materials and energy efficiency, renewable energy, and necessary infrastructure, then we’re sitting pretty by 2050. The authors of the Energy Report see solar as providing a third of all energy by that time, and they call for policymakers to prioritize renewable electricity and put sustainable transport fuels on the back burner (to give scientists more time to figure out how to bring experimental alternative fuels to scale).
A couple of researchers from UC Davis and Stanford came to an even more optimistic conclusion: The world can generate 100% of its energy from renewable sources, mostly solar and wind, by 2030. These guys have looked at everything — the amount of power the world will need, the availability of the natural resources needed to manufacture solar cells and wind turbines, the cost of transitioning to renewables compared to the environmental and health costs of burning more fossil fuels and, most importantly, the existence of proven clean energy technologies. They conclude, “Based on our findings, there are no technological or economic barriers to converting the entire world to clean, renewable energy sources…It is a question of whether we have the societal and political will.” You can link to their report here.
So, as they used to say on “The Six Million Dollar Man, “We have the technology”, but do we have the will? At Sungevity, we strive hard to make solar affordable for everyone and to push back against fossil fool ploys like Prop 23. But it will take more than one company or even one industry to set our nation on the path to a sustainable future. If you’ve already gone solar at home, that’s a great first step. Check out the heroic efforts of some of our Sungevity.org partners. Where can you play a role in building a clean, green economy by 2030?