Energy transition does not need a miracle – but 62 trillion

Past and future in one picture: Lignite is mined in Garzweiler, while wind power plants produce renewable energy in the background.Bild: keystone

Patrick Toggweiler
Patrick Toggweiler


A new study by Stanford University shows that the global energy transition is already possible with today’s technology – and it will cost 62 trillion dollars. However, these apparently high costs are amortized within six years. And that’s not the end of the good news.

The model

Wind turbines near Bad Harzburg, Germany.

Wind turbines near Bad Harzburg, Germany.Bild: keystone

The study examined the energy needs of 145 countries (responsible for 99.7% of CO2production) with a grid of 30 seconds. The narrow interval is new for such a study. In this way, day and night rhythms as well as seasonal needs can be taken into account. The aim was to model an infrastructure that can meet these needs with purely renewable energies without causing power outages.

The authors consider water, wind and solar power, thermal energy as well as wave and tidal power to be legitimate renewables. Nuclear power is not one of them.

To store the energy, the authors rely primarily on batteries, but also on heat and cold, water and hydrogen storage. All technologies already exist. It is important to note that this is a total energy study, not a power study. Accordingly, it also includes the consumption of all transportation, agriculture, construction, industry and even the military.

The main statements

Germany's largest floating PV system on the Silbersee in Haltern.

Germany’s largest floating PV system on the Silbersee in Haltern.Bild: keystone

According to the authors of the study, the energy transition can be achieved in any of the 145 countries with the technologies that currently exist. This requires investments worth 62 trillion worldwide. What looks like an enormous amount at first glance turns out to be surprisingly inexpensive on closer inspection.

See also  Infomaniak's email failure irritates on the web and challenges…

Electrification usually means an increase in efficiency. In many central areas, the electric variant is disproportionately more efficient than its counterpart, which is powered by fossil fuels: in engines, heating (with heat pumps) and industry, for example. In addition, with a purely electrical system, there are no costs for the procurement and transport of fossil fuels. All in all, the authors expect a cost reduction of 63 percent from an all-electric system – they call it “WWS”. Cost savings in the health care system due to cleaner air and less consequential damage due to a slowdown in climate change also have a relieving effect on WWS.

The authors conclude that an all-electric system using purely renewable energy generates annual savings of 11 trillion worldwide. The investment of 62 trillion would therefore be amortized in six years.

The model for Switzerland

There are also floating PV systems in Switzerland, here in Bourg-Saint-Pierre.  They are particularly efficient in the Alpine region.

There are also floating PV systems in Switzerland, here in Bourg-Saint-Pierre. They are particularly efficient in the Alpine region.Bild: keystone

The authors have produced a report for all countries examined. With WWS, Switzerland could reduce 52 million tons of CO every year from 20502 save on. Energy costs would fall 60.6 percent (from $28.1 billion to $11.1 billion per year).

Switzerland would have to invest around 75 billion dollars for this. A large part of this would be swallowed up by the massive expansion of wind power, which has so far hardly existed. The authors in Switzerland see the greatest potential here. Wind power would have to be expanded to a nominal output of 16.5 GW, which corresponds to around 5,500 new wind turbines (type Enercon E-82 E4 with a height of 84 meters and 3.02 MW). For comparison: the capacity of German wind power plants in 2020 was a good 62.7 GW. Switzerland would therefore have to install around a quarter of them.

See also  Chery Tiggo 8 Pro 2023 with a hybrid engine goes to Russia

The findings of the Stanford study are thus comparable with the model calculations of an EPFL study published in 2021. The test case of the EPFL study includes 4,438 new wind power plants – with a maximum technical upper limit of 50,398 plants in Switzerland.

The greatest potential for wind power in Switzerland is (in that order) in the Jura, the Alps and the Pre-Alps. 40 percent of the systems would be in the Jura.

In addition to wind power, the expansion of PV systems should also be promoted. The nominal total output would have to increase around tenfold, which does not seem unrealistic in view of the large amount of unused roof space. But here, too, there is the greatest potential in the Alpine region. Hydropower would not have to be expanded any further.

In terms of energy storage, batteries (4.8 TWh) and underground heat storage (74 TWh) would have to be built.

Both the Stanford and the EPFL study are purely technical analyses. From a purely technical point of view, there would be opportunities to implement the energy transition in Switzerland and around the world. Both studies do not take into account the willingness to do so – and the fact that every single one of the 5,500 wind power plants would be torpedoed by appeals.

Lumps of ice the size of oranges – Unusual hailstorm surprises Canada

Video: watson / nico bernasconi

This is what our last selfies on earth could look like

Video: watson

This might also interest you:



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Social Media

Most Popular

On Key

Related Posts