Generating electricity from the sun and the wind has become so affordable that despite the extra expense their variable supply incurs for power system management, their cost is undercutting that of fossil fuel
ON THE RISE
Electricity will become the single-largest energy carrier by mid-century
The world's renewable energy resource is large enough to produce more electricity than is required even after the electrification of the economy
The technologies to affordably decarbonise the world through electrification are already at our disposal
Without a European grid up to the task of not only meeting more demand for electricity, but also assimilating it from distributed renewables, green electrification of heating and transport is stymied from the start. Decarbonisation requires new infrastructure, yet the public is having none of it.
Three concerns are said to be hindering the uptake of electric passenger cars—high purchase cost, fear of a flat battery, and lack of charging infrastructure. But cost has fallen, the range of car batteries now rivals that of a full tank of fuel and recharging a depleted battery when the need arises is proving to be easier than expected
A new transmission line across the Baltic Sea shows that a more integrated European power network is not only steadily evolving, but that innovative approaches to infrastructure design can bring down the cost of the energy transition.
Denmark has led the way on decarbonisation of heating, with a rapid transition away from fossil fuels aided by its large scale adoption of heating networks over the past 40 years. Instead of exchanging individual heating appliances in every home and commercial building, the Danes are centrally converting their heat networks to renewable energy, saving citizens a pile of money in the process
As the United States legislates for higher shares of renewables, the development of its straggling and disjointed grid network to match its clean energy ambitions is lagging behind
Cement and steel manufacturing are two of the most carbon intensive industries in the world. Electrification can play a role in decarbonising both, though technology innovation is expensive and removing all emissions from the processes is a tall order
Decarbonisation of heating requires switching from systems and appliances that combust fossil fuels to those that rely on renewable energy. Nowhere is the switch more challenging to achieve for existing building stock than in the UK. If it can be done there, it can be done anywhere
No matter how much wind and solar power is generated, the energy transition cannot be achieved without a built-for-purpose electricity infrastructure. Gaps in the interconnections of Europe’s grid network and lack of capacity on the wires where it is needed most will halt green electrification of energy.