Renewables are the future of energy

Background - 1 July, 2016
We believe today's children will be the first to live in a world totally powered by solar, wind and other renewable energy sources. From micro-solar solutions that help to water crops in rural India, to vast wind-energy powered data farms in the US, clean, renewable energy is innovative, exciting and growing fast. But we must move faster still to avoid a climate change crisis. We need make the shift to 100 percent renewable energy as soon as possible.

Renewable energy is massive, mainstream and creating millions of jobs. Rapid renewable energy development is outpacing dirty and dangerous fossil fuel and nuclear power projects every year. As it continues to advance across the globe, renewable energy will only get cheaper, easier and faster to deploy.

Energy [R]evolution: Greenpeace's roadmap to a 100% renewable future

We know we have to change to avoid a climate crisis, and people are acting. But how will we get to the 100 percent renewable energy system we must have? And what will it look like in a sustainable world?

To answer these crucial questions, Greenpeace created the well-known and respected Energy [R]evolution analyses. Since 2005, we've shown what needs to be done and where energy markets need to go. Importantly, Greenpeace’s analyses clearly show our 100 percent renewable energy future is possible.

Greenpeace best predicts renewable energy growth!

Our Energy [R]evolution predictions reflect Greenpeace's world-changing, positive vision of the future. At first some thought our predictions for ambitious renewable energy potential and growth seemed unrealistic.

Instead, our predictions proved accurate. As US-based Meister Consultants Group concluded, "the world's biggest energy agencies, financial institutions and fossil fuel companies for the most part seriously under-estimated just how fast the clean power sector could and would grow".

It wasn't the International Energy Agency, Goldman Sachs or the US Department of Energy who got it right — it was Greenpeace. Our optimistic market scenario was the most accurate.

We know we can reach 100% renewable energy

Going forward, the great news is the Energy [R]evolution analysis shows our shift to 100 percent renewable energy faces no major economic or technical barriers.

All that's needed is political will to make it happen. With ambitious targets and the right policies, renewables can keep beating our expectations. Showing the way, growing numbers of city, regional and even national governments have already committed to going 100 percent renewable in electricity and other sectors.

Find out about Greenpeace campaigns for climate solutions where you live.

What will our 100% renewable future look like?

To get there, we'll use a range of renewable energy technologies to keep the lights on, power our economies, and heat our homes.

These technologies are not science fiction   they're proven, ready for use today.

Imagination and innovation continue to constantly multiply the ways we take advantage of renewable energy.  Clear glass solar collectors turn windows into power generators; hybrid systems can use wind to pump water uphill, and then also generate hydropower; lake water-cooling systems provide air conditioning for buildings.  

The clean energy mix of the future

Solar and wind will be our primary energy sources globally. But to leave dirty energy behind, the Energy [R]evolution analysis shows we'll also need more geothermal, sustainable biomass, small hydropower, tidal and wave energy, along with energy storage and other technologies to transform our energy system.

To make our 100 percent renewable energy future a reality, the Greenpeace scenario relies on big renewable energy projects, but also small ones, including locally-owned, people-powered renewable projects.

The many benefits of 100% renewable energy

The climate crisis is an urgent reason to make this global shift. But 100 percent renewable energy will improve our future well being in so many other ways. It will slash air pollution,[240] give millions more people access to energy, grow employment, reduce future energy costs, and advance sustainable development.

Costs benefits of 100% renewable energy

The shift to 100 percent renewable energy will cost less than business as usual simply because we will save on fuel costs. The renewable "fuels" used sun, wind, water, and heat from the earth are unlimited and free for the taking. It's an obvious advantage over volatile costs of fuels needed to power coal, oil, gas and nuclear plants.  

The cost advantages for 100 percent renewable energy are even greater where there's a price on carbon pollution. (Governments use carbon pricing measures to limit greenhouse gas emissions, released when carbon-containing coal, oil and gas are burned.) Since renewable energy generation is essentially carbon dioxide-free, carbon pricing makes it even more cost effective.

Unfortunately, around the world, governments still give more subsidies and tax breaks to polluting fossil fuels than to renewables. These policies undermine the urgent shift we need to achieve our 100 percent renewable energy future.

More jobs with 100% renewable energy

Renewable energy is also a great job creator. If our future tracks the path of Greenpeace's 100 percent renewable energy scenario, there will be 16.1 million more jobs by 2030 (compared to business as usual). Renewable energy will create opportunities for people shifting out of fossil fuel and nuclear energy jobs, providing a just transition for these workers.

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