Fully Renewable Electricity Worldwide is Feasible and More Cost-Effective than the Existing System

A global transition to 100% renewable electricity is not a long-term vision, but already a tangible reality, a new groundbreaking study by the Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) and the Energy Watch Group (EWG) shows. The study was presented on November 8, 2017 during the Global Renewable Energy Solutions Showcase event (GRESS) on the sidelines of the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP23 in Bonn.

The results of the study are revealing: A global electricity system fully based on renewable energy is feasible at every hour throughout the year and is more cost effective than the existing system, which is largely based on fossil fuels and nuclear energy.

Existing renewable energy potential and technologies, including storage can generate sufficient and secure power to cover the entire global electricity demand by 2050. Total levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) on a global average for 100% renewable electricity in 2050 is €52/MWh (including curtailment, storage and some grid costs), compared to €70/MWh in 2015.

"A full decarbonization of the electricity system by 2050 is possible for lower system cost than today based on available technology. Energy transition is no longer a question of technical feasibility or economic viability, but of political will", Christian Breyer, lead author of the study, LUT Professor of Solar Economy and Chairman of the EWG Scientific Board said.

A transition to 100% renewables would bring greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector down to zero and drastically reduce total losses in power generation. It would create 36 million jobs by 2050, 17 million more than today.

"There is no reason to invest one more Dollar in fossil or nuclear power production", EWG President Hans-Josef Fell said. "Renewable energy provides cost-effective power supply. All plans for a further expansion of coal, nuclear, gas and oil have to be ceased. More investments need to be channeled in renewable energies and the necessary infrastructure for storage and grids. Everything else will lead to unnecessary costs and increasing global warming."

The study "Global Energy System based on 100% Renewable Energy – Power Sector" will have major implications for policy makers and politicians around the world, as it refutes a frequently used argument by critics that renewables cannot provide full energy supply on an hourly basis.

The first of its art modeling, developed by LUT, computes the cost-optimal mix of technologies based on locally available renewable energy sources for the world structured in 145 regions and calculates the most cost-effective energy transition pathway for electricity supply on an hourly resolution for an entire reference year. The global energy transition scenario is carried out in 5-year time periods from 2015 until 2050. The results are aggregated into nine major regions of the world: Europe, Eurasia, MENA, Sub-Saharan Africa, SAARC, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, North America and South America.

The study "Global Energy System based on 100% Renewable Energy – Power Sector" is co-funded by the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU) and the Stiftung Mercator.

Further information:

Professor Christian Breyer, christian.breyer@lut.fi, +358 50 443 1929
Click here for key findings and the executive summary
The full study is available here
A presentation summarising the global results and further links to regions and countries is available here