Sadiq Khan on reaching net zero by 2030
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Economist Professor Doyne Farmer of the University of Oxford has spoken of what he believes to be a misunderstanding among the public relating to green energy use. He said: “There is a pervasive misconception that switching to clean, green energy will be painful, costly, and mean sacrifices for us all — but that’s just wrong. “Renewable costs have been trending down for decades. They are already cheaper than fossil fuels in many situations, and our research shows that they will become cheaper than fossil fuels across almost all applications in the years to come. “And if we accelerate the transition, they will become cheaper faster. Completely replacing fossil fuels with clean energy by 2050 will save us trillions.” Alongside this, the team said, a fast transition to green power could end up providing 55 percent more energy services globally by ramping up solar and wind power, green hydrogen, battery storage tech and electric vehicles.
In their study, Prof. Farmer and colleagues analysed thousands of green transition cost scenarios produced by major energy models.
They compared these alongside data on 45 years of solar energy costs, 37 years of wind energy prices and 25 years for battery storage technologies.
The team found that the real-world cost of solar power dropped twice as fast than the most ambitious projections had predicted.
In fact, they concluded, models generated over the last 20 years appear to have badly overestimated the future costs of key clean energy technologies versus reality.
Paper author and fellow Oxford economist Dr Rupert Way said: “Past models predicting high costs for transitioning to zero carbon energy have deterred companies from investing, and made governments nervous about setting policies that will accelerate the energy transition and cut reliance on fossil fuels.
“But clean energy costs have fallen sharply over the last decade, much faster than those models expected.
“Our latest research shows that scaling up key green technologies will continue to drive their costs down, and the faster we go, the more we will save.
“Accelerating the transition to renewable energy is now the best bet not just for the planet, but for energy costs too.”
In fact, the team concluded that a rapid shift to decarbonisation could save the world a whopping $12trillion (£10.4trillion) by the middle of the century.
The study also found that the costs for key energy storage technologies like batteries and hydrogen electrolysis are also likely to fall dramatically in the near future.
In contrast, the cost of nuclear power has consistently increased over the last five decades — meaning it is highly unlikely to end up being cost-competitive with plummeting renewable and storage costs.
Prof. Farmer added: “The world is facing a simultaneous inflation crisis, national security crisis and climate crisis.”
All of these emergencies, he said, have been “caused by our dependence on high cost, insecure, polluting, fossil fuels with volatile prices.
“Ambitious policies to dramatically accelerate the transition to a clean energy future as quickly as possible are not only urgently needed for climate reasons.
“[Such policies] can save the world trillions in future energy costs, giving us a cleaner, chaper, more energy secure future.”
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Since Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year, the cost of energy has skyrocketed, resulting in inflation all around the world.
The team said that while their study was conducted before the present energy crisis, it takes such cost fluctuations into account thanks to its use of historical price data.
The current crisis, they added, underscores the study’s findings and demonstrates the risks of continuing to rely on expensive, insecure fossil fuels.
The researchers have recommended that nations should respond to the current situation by accelerating the transition to low cost, clean energy as soon as possible.
The full findings of the study were published in the journal Joule.
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