Is a Europe powered completely by renewable energy possible? In 2005, less than 10% of the EU’s energy consumption came from renewable sources. In 2014, this figure was 16%. It’s certainly a step in the right direction… but is the transition happening too slowly? And will it ever be possible to replace fossil fuels 100%?
Industry and the commercial sector are key here. There is much that governments can do in terms of setting targets and facilitating a transition, but businesses account for roughly half of all electricity consumption on the planet. Last December, Google announced it would be powering its data centres and offices around the world with 100% renewable energy in 2017, and other companies are making their own plans to transition to renewables.
However, not everybody is convinced. Sceptics point out that progress in moving away from fossil fuels has been slow, and that those countries that have made huge leaps (such as Sweden and – outside the EU – Iceland and Norway) tend to have smaller populations and significant hydroelectric resources. There is also the problem of intermittency (i.e. what happens when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining?), as well as the question of how to store and transport electricity generated by renewables.
On February 2nd 2017, we attended an event in Brussels co-hosted by Google and RE100 (a non-profit initiative of businesses committed to 100% renewable power). The event focused on how businesses are moving to renewable energy and how EU energy policies can best support this transition. We put some of your questions to the policymakers and business representatives at the event.
We had a question from Alina, who asked: “How do we know if renewable’s will [replace] 100% of energy though?”
To get a response, we spoke to Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission and European Commissioner for Energy Union. What would he say to Alina?
To get another reaction, we also put Alina’s comment to Monica Mireles Serrano, Senior Policy Advisor at IKEA. What does the situation look like from the perspective of European businesses?
Finally, we also had a comment from Bart on our “Suggest a Debate” page, who wondered if the challenge of storing and transporting renewable energy had finally been solved. To get a response, we spoke to Francois Sterin, Director of Global Infrastructure at Google. What would he say?
Can renewables ever replace fossil fuels 100%? If so, how long will it take? And has the challenge of storage and transportation of renewable energy been solved? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!