ESG: A Global Transition to 100% Renewable Energy Costs $73T; Payback 7 Years

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A study by Stanford researchers finds the benefits far outweigh the costs of the switch to renewables.

A group of researchers at Stanford University, led by Mark Jacobson, has prepared detailed roadmaps for 143 countries that account for 99.7 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions. These roadmaps provide for a 100% transition to wind-water-solar (WWS) energies and storage by 2050, and 80% by 2030.

The global cost? All of about $73 trillion as per the present value of capital cost. The payback is in under seven years, and comes with massive benefits:

  • Reduces energy needs by 57.1%
  • Cuts energy costs from $17.7 trillion to $6.8 trillion (61%)
  • Lowers social costs (such as private plus health plus climate) from $76.1 to $6.8 trillion/year (91%)
  • Creates 28.6 million more long-term, full-time jobs than those lost

Said Jacobson: “Many of the policymakers and advocates supporting and promoting the Green New Deal don’t have a good idea of the details of what the actual system looks like or what the impact of a transition is. It’s more an abstract concept. So, we’re trying to quantify it and to pin down what one possible system might look like. This work can help fill that void and give countries guidance.”

Savings in energy needs

The report says there would be a substantial decrease in energy needs due to higher efficiencies of renewable energy versus fossil-based energy. Examples are electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles over fossil fuel vehicles, of the electrified industry over the fossil industry, and electric heat pumps over fossil heating and cooling.

Furthermore, there would be huge savings from the elimination of energy required for mining, transporting, and refining of fossil fuels.

WWS and the vagaries of weather

What about renewable energy’s Achille’s Heel of disruption in supply due to weather conditions? This issue is solved by intermittent supply and storage throughout the world. A 100% electrification creates a more flexible demand for energy. Therefore, matching demand with supply and storage is much easier.

“There’s really no downside to making this transition,” said Jacobson when speaking to Bloomberg. “Most people are afraid it will be too expensive. Hopefully, this will allay some of those fears.”

Related Story:  Bill Gates-backed Startup Announces Clean Energy Breakthrough

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