Fast transition to clean energy ‘cheaper’ than ‘slow or no transition’, claims Oxford study – EQ Mag Pro
New Delhi : Fast transition to clean energy is “cheaper than slow or no transition” and the idea that going green will be expensive is “just wrong”, a new Oxford study has claimed.
According to a study by Oxford University researchers, transition to a decarbonised energy system by around 2050 is expected to “save the world at least 12 trillion dollars” as against a scenario where we continue to use fossil fuel energy at the current levels.
“Rapid transition to clean energy results in lower energy system costs than a fossil fuel system, while providing more energy to the global economy and expanding energy access to more people around the world,” the study said.
The study’s ‘Fast Transition’ scenario has shown a “realistic” possible future for a fossil-free energy system by around 2050, providing 55 per cent more energy services globally than today by ramping up solar, wind, batteries, electric vehicles, and other clean fuels such as green hydrogen (made from renewable electricity).
“Past models predicting high costs for transition to zero carbon energy have deterred companies from investing, and made governments nervous about setting policies.
“But clean energy costs have fallen sharply over the last decade, much faster than those models expected,” Rupert Way, a postdoctoral researcher at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, said.
For the study, the researchers analysed thousands of transition cost scenarios produced by major energy models and used data on 45 years of solar energy costs, 37 years of wind energy costs, and 25 years for battery storage.
They found that the real cost of solar energy “dropped twice as fast as the most ambitious projections” in these models, revealing that over the last 20 years “previous models badly overestimated the future costs of key clean energy technologies”.
Doyne Farmer, who led the team that conducted the study at the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School, said, “There is a pervasive misconception that switching to clean, green energy will be painful, costly and mean sacrifices for us all – but that’s just wrong.” The study showed that the costs for key storage technologies such as batteries and hydrogen electrolysis, are also “likely to fall dramatically”.
Meanwhile, the costs of nuclear energy have consistently increased over the last five decades, making it highly unlikely to be cost competitive.
“The world is facing a simultaneous inflation, national security and climate crisis, all caused by our dependence on high cost, insecure, polluting, fossil fuels with volatile prices.
“This study shows that ambitious policies to accelerate the transition to a clean energy future as quickly as possible are not only urgently needed for climate reasons, but can save the world trillions in future energy costs,” Farmer said.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the costs of fossil energy have skyrocketed, causing inflation around the world.
The study, conducted before the current crisis, has taken account of such fluctuations using over a century’s worth of fossil fuel price data. The current energy crisis underscores the study’s findings and demonstrates the risks of continued reliance on fossil fuels.
According to the research, the response to the crisis should include accelerating the transition to low cost, clean energy as soon as possible.
The research is a collaboration between the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School, the Oxford Martin Programme on the Post-Carbon Transition, and the Smith School of Enterprise & Environment at the University of Oxford, and SoDa Labs at Monash University.