100% renewables worldwide by 2050 is achievable

» By | Published 08 Feb 2011

Last week WWF released a major report arguing that the world’s entire energy needs could be met “cleanly, renewably and economically” within four decades.

Published in conjunction with energy consultancy Ecofys and the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, ‘The Energy Report’ noted there are no technological or financial reasons preventing wind power and other renewables from creating a carbon-free world by 2050.

“If we continue to rely on fossil fuels, we face a future of increasing anxieties over energy costs, energy security and climate change impacts,” WWF Director General Jim Leape said on Thursday in an accompanying press release.

“The Energy Report shows that in four decades we can have a world of vibrant economies and societies powered entirely by clean, cheap and renewable energy and with a vastly improved quality of life,” Leape said. “The report is more than a scenario – it’s a call for action. We can achieve a cleaner, renewable future, but we must start now.”

The 256-page report noted that wind power could meet 25% of the world’s electricity needs four decades from now.

According to the press release, providing reliable, affordable and clean energy on the scale required will need a global effort similar to the response to the recent world financial crisis. In the long term, however, the savings from lower energy costs would balance total new investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency by 2040. In addition, savings over a “Business-As-Usual” scenario would amount to about €4 trillion from lower energy costs alone by 2050.

The report noted that CO2 emissions from the world’s energy supply sector could be reduced by over 80% by 2050, but that the existing electricity grids have to be modernised if wind power and other renewables are to reach their vast potential.

It concluded that onshore wind power could provide 20% of global electricity demand by 2050 while offshore wind could provide 5%.

A similarly visionary initiative is currently taking place in Europe, supported by EWEA. A declaration of support for 100% renewable energy by 2050 has been launched by Greenpeace, the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) and the European Forum for Renewable Energy Sources (EUFORES) and is being supported by a range of business and organisations.