Energy may be our single largest and thorniest issue as we progress into the middle of the 21st century and some seriously big thinking about new ways to produce it will have to become commonplace in order for us to move away from carbon based fuels and towards renewable fuels and electricity. The World Wildlife Fund in partnership with Ecofys and the Office for Metropolitan Architecture’s AMO released a report yesterday that outlines a strategy 2 years in the making to end our need for carbon based fuel by 2050. The report is a broad but digestible vision of how civilization can adjust to a renewables-based economy. Like a similar report we profiled last week, the message is start now and think big.
A map of the World’s solar resources
The 253 page report is a two part look at how we can completely eliminate the use of carbon based fuels to run our cars, heat our homes, run our industry and power our grid. The first half, by the WWF is an overall look at the why and what of a new energy economy with a visual guide. The second part is an exhaustive list by Ecofys of the many factors that come into play for renewable energy to be our sole source of power and fuels.
Like the Renewable Energy by 2030 report in Energy Journal, this study has a broad portfolio of existing renewable energy sources with geothermal and tidal providing a base load and solar and wind supplementing when available. The study also discounts nuclear power as a dirty and expensive form of energy in the long run and eliminates it from the energy mix. The report supports carbon capture but does not believe that the technology will be mature enough to be economically feasible by the time renewables are in place.
The Energy Report goes further in detailing transportation solutions, social energy equity, and broad conservation as pivotal to the success of the proposal. This means biofuels, vast grid networks and distributed energy generation, and zero energy building and retrofits similar to the Passivhaus standard. The study places great emphasis on reducing energy demand which also lowers costs. Another positive aspect is that while the study notes that the implementation of renewables at such scales is costly, the ongoing energy generation is less expensive than our current system so in the bigger picture, it will not necessarily cost more.