Renewable Energies to Drive a New Paradigm

An alternative solution to the colossal waste from conventional electricity generation exists. Renewable energies are abundant, unlimited and free. They represent a complete change of paradigm. The fuel is free, available and permanently renewed. Consequently, once the investments are amortized, energy becomes almost free.

Huge Potential

Renewable energy reserves are a new concept that was developed a few years ago. It aims to measure the ultimate potential of use of renewable energy in a given place. The calculation considers first that nothing dramatic is to happen to current climatic conditions and therefore that the potential of use of renewable energy is to remain sustainable over time. Then, the calculation measures the reserves by looking at all areas where renewable energy sources could be developed, such as

Table 5.1 Renewable energy reserves (Favennec and Mathieu 2014; © OECD/IEA, WEO 2012)

Reserves

(Mtoe)a

Consumption

2013

Theoretical available

reserves

Expected consumption 2035

% of use in 2035 (%)

Hydro

914

2137

1474

68,966

Wind

103

322,810

420

0.130

Geothermal

6

10,760

95

0.880

Solar

30

5,595,381

172

0.003

Marine

0.65

12,284

6.14

0.050

Total

1053

5,943,373

2167

0.036

^Figures are built from TWh production converted in Mtoe, with a multiplier to account for the current yield of conventional plants. The purpose is to be able to compare renewable “reserves” to the current primary fossil fuel reserves

for instance the Sahara desert for sun power, or large continental shelves for wind. Every place suitable for the production of any kind of renewable energy is considered a reserve. Obviously the definition is highly theoretical. The evaluation should eventually include all specific issues related to land, neighborhood, etc. Nevertheless it shows the overall potential that renewable energy offers. The table below shows the production level in 2013, the theoretical possible reserves (Favennec and Mathieu 2014), as well as the estimated production level in 2035 (© OECD/IEA, WEO 2012), in million tons of oil equivalent. It shows that hydroelectricity would be well used, with a ratio in 2035 of around 68% of the ultimate potential. Other sources of renewable energy are however underused considerably. Solar is particularly underused with less than 0.003% of the ultimate potential consumed, despite the very strong forecasted growth of solar-based electricity production (Table 5.1).

In comparison, proven reserves of oil amount to 238,000 Mtoe. They correspond to two thirds of the wind potential reserves, and 4% of the sun potential reserves, which renew themselves! Renewable energy thus represents, theoretically, the solution to all energy problems of the planet, and forever. Solar energy in particular is by far the most promising technology.

 
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