What It Would Really Take to Run the World off of Renewable Energy


With electric power establishing itself even further into our modern society, generating it is becoming an even more complex issue. As we seek to find a sustainable power source, we are naturally drawn to the thought of renewable energy. However, the question remains, what would it really take to run the world completely off of renewable energy?

Researchers from Stanford and UC Davis engaged in an analysis of current renewable energy technology few years ago to examine what would be needed to run the world off of sustainable energy.


Their plan calls for using wind, water and solar energy to generate power, with wind and solar power contributing 90 percent of the needed energy.
The researchers approached the conversion with the goal that by 2030, all new energy generation would come from wind, water and solar, and by 2050, all pre-existing energy production would be converted as well.

One of the biggest hurdles with wind and solar energy is that both can be highly variable.
“One of the most promising methods of insuring that supply matches demand is using long-distance transmission to connect widely dispersed sites,” said Delucchi.

Use the off-hours excess electricity to produce hydrogen for the industrial and transportation sectors.


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    No, country X did NOT just run entirely on wind.

    There’s a lot of misleading information about renewable energy.

    On the surface it seems to make sense: Denmark produced more wind power than it consumed, therefore it ran entirely on wind energy. Right?

    Wrong. Why? Because Denmark wasn’t able to turn off their other power plants (see figure). If you can’t turn coal plants off, well, then they are still producing electricity, burning coal, and emitting CO2.

    Electricity produced from fossil fuels and from wind inevitably gets mixed up in the grid — you can’t un-mix them after.

    The problem with comparing renewable production to consumption, is that it completely misses the other power plants generating surplus power.

    Instead of focussing on how much renewable we produced, let’s focus on how much CO2 we emit

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Germany Sets New National Record With 85 Percent of Its Electricity Sourced From Renewables

    Germany was able to set a new national record for the last weekend of April with 85 percent of all electricity consumed in the country being produced from renewables — wind, solar, biomass, and hydroelectric power.

    In record-breaking weekend, Germany got 85% of its electricity from renewables

    Germany is kicking all kinds of sustainable butt when it comes to its use of renewable energy sources. According to recently released figures, for the last weekend of April, the country established a jaw-dropping new national record in this department — with 85 percent of all electricity consumed in Germany being produced through wind, solar, biomass, and hydroelectric power.

    Aided by a seasonal combination of windy but sunny weather, during that weekend the majority of Germany’s coal-fired power stations weren’t even operating, while nuclear power stations (which the country plans to phase out by the year 2022) were massively reduced in output.

    To be clear, this is impressive even by Germany’s progressive standards. By comparison, in March just over 40 percent of all electricity consumed in the country came from renewable sources. (According to the most recent figures we could find, in 2015 just 16.9 percent of the electrical generation in the United States came from renewable sources.)

    According to Patrick Graichen of the country’s sustainability-focused Agora Energiewende Initiative, German renewable energy percentages in the mid-80s should be “completely normal” by the year 2030.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Five Nations Leading the Renewable Revolution

    One by one, the nations of the world are switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. For some, it’s a matter of environmental protection; for others, it’s about seeking energy independence. Either way, the change is happening, with around a quarter of the world’s energy coming from renewable sources.

    Brazil – Hydroelectricity

    Brazil has been relying on hydropower since the 1940s, mainly due to a lack of local fossil fuel resources.
    Despite those issues, Brazil’s hydropower infrastructure makes it one of the leading producers of renewable energy in the world, generating 382 GWh in 2015.

    Scotland – Wind power

    While Scotland’s economy may be dependent on oil, the local government has been pursuing an ambitious goal: 100 percent renewable electricity by 2020, and 50 percent renewable total energy usage, including vehicle fuel consumption, by 2030. Located on the edge of the North Atlantic, Scotland is a prime location for vast wind farms, with existing wind power facilities providing over 8,000 GW per year.

    Germany – Solar power

    We tend to associate solar power with sunny regions, but that’s not always the case. Germany, not famous for its sunny climate, is the world leader in solar energy, with over 35 GW of solar capacity in the country. It’s part of an infrastructure that should allow Germany to go 100 percent renewable by 2050, but how did a cold Northern European country come to dominate solar energy?

    The Philippines – Geothermal

    Geothermal energy is often overlooked in the race for sustainable energy solutions. The upfront cost for a geothermal energy plant can be enormous — up to $7 million for a station with a capacity of one megawatt. Drilling for geothermal energy can also be as bad for the environment as fracking, potentially releasing toxins and even causing earthquakes.

    Denmark – Energy efficiency strategies

    Many strategies focus on how we generate energy, but it’s equally important to think about how we consume energy. Part of Denmark’s strategy has been to subsidize large-scale energy efficiency measures, which cover everything from home insulation to upgrades of industrial equipment.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    U.S. Energy Research Faces a Potential Roadblock

    Concerns persist regarding federal energy-research funding, which could dry up if the U.S. budget as presently constituted gets enough votes to pass.

    Federally funded basic research in energy sciences would be eliminated if the current proposed U.S. budget is adopted. To counter this possible loss, several executives from major U.S. companies have pressured Congress to at least maintain the federal support for basic energy research under ARPA-E, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. If ARPA-E is eliminated, it would set the U.S. energy industry back at least 20 years and relinquish U.S. technology leadership to other countries.

    According to Mufson’s article, the current administration has proposed massive cuts in research, including a 35% overall cut in science and energy innovation. The administration has also proposed elimination of the $400-million-a-year ARPA-E program.

    The business leaders emphasized that the ARPA-E programs “provide a blueprint for smart federal investments in high-risk, high reward technologies that boost our competitiveness by keeping America at the forefront of global energy technology research.”


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *