‘Full switch to renewables possible’ – Report

21 September 2015, NewsWires – The world can more than afford to switch to 100% renewable energy as the savings in fuel usage will outweigh the cost of switching from fossil fuels, a new Greenpeace-backed study has claimed.

Greenpeace executive director Kumi Naidoo

Greenpeace executive director Kumi Naidoo. (Photo: Marina Fedoseeva/Greenpeace/Upstream)

The environmental watchdog has also countered claims by the International Energy Agency (IEA) that job creation will fall once fossil fuel usage declines, claiming that the employment scenario will improve in a green future.

The study, entitled “Energy [R]evolution – a sustainable world energy outlook 2015”, was produced in collaboration with the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and released on Monday.

“The investment cost for the switch to 100% renewables by 2050 is about $1 trillion a year. But because renewable energies don’t need fuel, the average fuel cost savings are $1.07 trillion a year,” it read.

“So the investment over the period is met in full by fuel cost savings, with the cross-over happening between 2025 and 2030.”

The study comes ahead of a crucial meeting on climate change between world powers in Paris at the end of the year.

“The ‘Energy [R]evolution’ proposes a phase-out of fossil fuels starting with lignite (the most carbon-intensive) by 2035, followed by coal (2045), then oil and then finally gas (2050),” it read.

“The rate of phase-out of oil and gas matches the rate of depletion of existing oil and gas fields. So exploration for new fields should be seen as high-risk investment as the ‘assets’ may be stranded.

The study claimed that, within 15 years, the share of renewable in the electricity mix could treble from today’s 21% to 64%. Greenpeace’s scenario sees natural gas as the last fossil fuel to be in place, but even that will be replaced renewable-generated hydrogen by 2050.


“Even with the rapid development of countries like Brazil, China and India, CO2 emissions could fall from the current 30 gigatonnes a year to 20 gigatonnes by 2030,” it said.

The switch to renewables would also not come at the cost of jobs, the report claimed.

“At every stage in the transition to 100% renewable energy, there are more energy sector jobs. The IEA predicts the number of jobs falling after 2020. The ‘Energy [R]evolution’ sees them increasing, by nearly 20 million between now and 2030, because of strong growth and investment in renewable.


“Solar PV [photovoltaics] will provide 9.7 million jobs, equal to the number of people working in the coal industry today. Jobs in wind power will grow to over 7.8 million, which is twice as many as are employed in oil and gas today,” it added.

The report’s lead author, Sven Teske of Greenpeace, commented: “The solar- and wind industries have come of age, and are cost-competitive with coal. It is very likely they will overtake the coal industry in terms of jobs and energy supplied within the next decade.

“It’s the responsibility of the fossil fuel industry to prepare for these changes in the labour market and make provisions. Governments need to manage the dismantling of the fossil fuel industry which is moving rapidly into irrelevance.”

Greenpeace executive director Kumi Naidoo added: “We must not let lobbying by vested interests in the fossil fuel industry stand in the way of a switch to renewable energy, the most effective and fairest way to deliver a clean and safe energy future, so more than meet the costs of the investment.”

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