We already know that large-scale wind and solar are becoming competitive without subsidies in some parts of the world, even while fossil fuels remain hooked on government support.
Now, as reported by TV network YLE, a team of researchers at Finnish universities has shown that a rapid transition to wind and solar in the next five to ten years offers the cheapest, most cost effective option for meeting China's growing energy demand:
The Finnish researchers are confident that renewable energy sources like solar and wind power will become the cheapest form of energy production in Asia within the next ten years. What is more, energy produced in this way provides the added benefits of being inexpensive, emission-free and promoting self-sufficiency. Professor of solar energy Christian Breyer from the Lappeenranta University says the project’s large-scale simulation of functioning renewable energy networks is the first of its kind.
What's particularly interesting about this research is not just that individual renewable energy projects might be cost competitive in the very near future, but also that—to quote Professor Breyer—a "network fully based on renewable energy is possible in Northeast Asia."
The idea of meeting our entire energy demand from renewable sources has, until recently, been seen as a pipe dream. Yet with entire cities signing up to go 100% renewable, and with renewable energy costs tumbling, energy storage becoming mainstream, and energy demand falling in many parts of the world even as economies grow, a truly low carbon economy is beginning to feel a whole lot more feasible.
Ten years from now, we may look at the historic China US climate pledge and laugh at its lack of ambition.
I surely hope so.
And so, most likely, does anyone who has to breathe Beijing's poisonous air.