Can you imagine a world powered by 100% renewable electricity and fuel? It may seem like a fantasy, but a collaborative team of scientists has just shown that this dream is theoretically possible – if we manage to achieve global redemption.
The newly published research, led by Professor James Ward of the University of South Australia and co-authored by a team including Luca Coscieme of Trinity College Dublin, explains how a renewable future is achievable.
Study published in an international journal, Energy, explores what changes are needed in our energy mix and technologies, as well as in our consumption patterns, if we are to achieve 100% renewability in a way that supports all and countless lives on our planet.
Fully renewable energy, envisioned by the team, will require significant “electrification” of our energy mix and raises important questions about the potential conflict between land requirements for renewable fuel production.
Explaining the work in detail, Luca Coscieme, a researcher at Trinity’s Natural School, said:
“First, the high fuel needs of today’s high-income countries would have to be reduced because an unsustainably large amount of land would be needed to be covered by biomass plantations if we want to produce enough fuel to meet the same levels.
“In addition, our research shows that we should radically ‘electrify’ the energy supply of such countries – including Ireland – assuming that these changes could supply 75% of society’s final energy needs. We should also adopt technology in which electricity is used to convert atmospheric gases into synthetic fuels.
“We hope that the approach designed in this research will inform our vision of a sustainable future and guide national planning by contextualizing energy needs within the broader consumption patterns we see in other countries with energy and forest product consumption profiles that – if adopted worldwide – Theoretically could satisfy high-tech fuels from renewable sources. Countries like Argentina, Cyprus, Greece, Portugal and Spain are great examples in this regard.
“Nevertheless, the success of this green ideal will largely depend on major future technological developments, in electrification efficiency and in the production and refining of new synthetic fuels. Such a scenario is still likely to require the use of a significant – albeit hopefully sustainable – part of the world’s forest areas. “