Sustainable Energy Transition

  • The climate change will foreseeably stay with us for centuries. Thus we should put all effort into reaching the lowest temperature increase possible. Any later remediation of today's too high carbon-dioxide emissions will be expensive, while we apparently today do not even have sufficient funding available to solve all the other current problems laid down e.g. in the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

  • If renewable energy technologies would grow on global scale with 30% per year and then maintain a growth level to anually renewably substitute 3% of the primary-energy consumption, we would reach net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 and reach the climate goal of 1.5°C. With a growth rate of 20% per year and a substitution rate of 2% per year we will only reach around 2.0°C and energy transition will take until 2075.

  • Today growth rate of renewables is at 20% per year and has been declining during the last years. Currently, the substitution rate is only well below 1% per year. Thus, without significant instantaneous intensification of sustainable-energy transition we have overslept the 1.5°C climate goal.

  • Analyzing how the effort to reach the climate goals will increase, if we wait until intensifying sustainable-energy transition, shows that for reaching the 1.5°C any additional wasted year will increase the required effort dramatically. This analysis additionally demonstrates, that also for the sustainable-energy transition decreasing population growth would be beneficial.

The discussion presented here is based on a publication in ChemBioEng Reviews:
Pfennig, A.: Sustainable Bio- or CO2-Economy: Chances, Risks, and Systems Perspective.
ChemBioEng Reviews (2019) 6(3), 90-104.