As a species we have made incredible leaps through the centuries. However, energy has been one of the neglected issues in global development. Although our discovery of fossil fuels ran our industrial engine conveniently, it also kept emptying out the planet’s core. And after centuries, only recently the connection between continuous depletion of fossil fuel reserves and its effects on the world have been made. The obvious and very simple question, that what’s next after all fossil fuel reserves are depleted- has loomed over our sophisticated society.
Understanding the need to evolve, the world came together and started looking for alternate energy choices, initiating the energy revolution. Fossil fuel usage was indeed a progressive move for us, but when it still failed to provide energy to 1.6 billion people around the world, it was time for the world to evolve and initiate a transition to renewable sources of energy.
What Fossil Fuel Has Brought
Global energy supply through fossil fuels have reached from 6,100 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) in 1977 to 13,700 Mtoe by 2014. And unfortunately, Coal still holds its position as the second-largest energy source in the world. Such utilization choices have resulted into making countries like- China, India, and United States the top coal-related CO2 emitters, which are suspected to account for 70% of global CO2 emissions in future. Research shows that if our fossil fuel usage dependency persists, energy-related CO2 emissions in the world will increase from 32.3 billion metric tons in 2012 to 35.6 billion metric tons in 2020, ultimately reaching 43.2 billion metric tons in 2040.
Global energy related CO2 emissions are estimated to increase at an average of 1.0% from 2012 to 2040. Emissions in Mexico and Chile grew by 1.1%/year, while South Korea saw an increase of 1.0%/year (in average). In Europe, CO2 emissions increased by 0.2%/year and in the Americas, 0.3%/year (in average) increase is noted. Asia stands with approximately 59% growth in global CO2 emissions from 2012 to an estimated 2040. China contributed to more than 41% of the total CO2 increase in Asia’s greenhouse gas emission, although the country has shown only 1.0%/year growth in CO2 emission. In comparison to other countries, it is noticeable that India stands with a 2.7%/year increase in CO2 emissions. From coal combustion alone, Asia’s CO2 emission is estimated to rise more than 2.2 billion metric tons in the future. So it is easy to figure out that our dependency on fossil fuels is short-sighted. And limited fossil fuels would not be able to satisfy the energy demand that will rise with the population boom. This simple understanding indicates a fatal flaw in our conventional energy powered plans for the future.
On the other hand, focusing on sustainable energy promises to help us construct a safer and more energy rich future without inflicting any damage to our climate and planet. Among various forms of renewable energy, solar received global acceptance as it is easy to manufacture, use, maintain, and feasible (followed by 90% drop in solar module prices) than other renewable energy choices. The whole world accepting solar and collaborating to speed up its growth as a main stream energy source makes it a revolution, which the world desperately needed.
What this Revolution Can Bring?
Renewable energy sources impact the economy very positively, both on a global and local level. That is why developing countries like- Brazil, Philippines, Africa, Morroco, India etc. are seriously investing in renewable energy – especially solar ($286 billion was invested in renewable energy in 2016, and out of that amount $131.56 billion was invested by developing countries). The opportunity to re-structure economy and create jobs is so tangible with renewable energy ventures, that developing countries are betting huge on it, shifting from conventional energy. A closer look at developing countries highlight, that rising cost of conventional energy (due to their limited reserves) has made it problematic for developing countries to initiate any kind of progress (since energy is the life force of development). In such a scenario solar energy produces the best option to improve energy scenario and economic stability (by reducing forex outflow to buy fossil fuel) as well.
Renewable Energy Can Create More Jobs
- In US, solar energy is creating 13.7 jobs per million dollars spent, surpassing fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) as it creates 12.1 jobs per million spent.
- Solar industry has created 416,000 jobs in India in 2015 and 1,017,800 jobs are expected be created within 2022.
- Brazil has hopes of creating 60,000 to 90,000 new jobs by the year 2018.
- European Union is expecting to create +1.25 million economy-wide renewable energy jobs by 2030, reducing 40% greenhouse gas emissions.
- Mexico is expecting to create +134,000 jobs in renewable energy sector by 2030.
- United Kingdom can create +70,000 net employment in renewable energy by 2030.
- Renewable energy is expecting to create 24 million jobs by 2030 globally.
A boost in employment will ultimately lead to improvement of the local economy, initiating country wide infrastructural and social growth.
Switching On Economic Reform
Increasing share of renewables in global energy industry can increase the global GDP from 0.6 per cent to 1.1 per cent by 2030, which will roughly translate into USD 700 billion to USD 1.3 trillion. This clearly indicates that a better infrastructure will be up and running, trying to offer a better lifestyle to the growing world population. Judging from the changes that will surface with increased renewable energy usage in sectors like health, education, environment, and economy, global welfare is expected to rise by almost 2.7 per cent. Shift towards green energy, will create new markets for trading. Moreover, it will impact the fossil fuel market, reducing its global investment, and saving billions of dollars for countries, which can be thrust back into development oriented initiatives (infrastructural and social, eventually leading to economic reform).
As the PV manufacturing reaches scale, the shift from fossil fuel to green energy will be easy for countries. And self-interested energy users would select solar to gain energy security, while contributing to the economic reform that promises a better and bright future for all.
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