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Global renewable energy vision for 2050

An international renewable energy system will be possible by 2050, according to a report by Ecofys and WWF.

By Isabella Kaminski

The Energy Report, published by Ecofys and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), claims that 95% of all energy could be renewable by 2050 using existing technologies and applying stringent sustainability criteria.

Only certain manufacturing processes, such as steel and cement, cannot yet be substituted by renewable fuels, according to the report.

Manon Janssen, CEO of Ecofys, says: “We can do this by using and improving the technologies that are already at hand. It is a business opportunity as much as it is a technological challenge.”

The report examines the future level of energy-consuming activities (e.g. tonnes of steel used) based on a growing population and a tripling of the world’s economy. These services would be delivered with a minimum of energy and material use.

It then ranks sources providing energy for these activities based on sustainability. The research prioritised renewable energy from the sun, wind, water and heat from the earth’s crust; bioenergy was only considered once the other options had been exhausted.

According to the report, an important condition is the development towards a sustainable standard of living around the world, based on increasing equity between different regions. Up-front financing would be required to achieve this but the benefits would outweigh the costs in the long term.

Janssen says: “That does not mean it will be easy. Present policies and measures are definitely not sufficient. But we must realise that we need to act and that acting now will secure benefits later. We believe that businesses have a major role to play in making it happen.”

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