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.

Curious to know more about renewable energy in Europe? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger version).Google_Renewable_energy_5

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!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Lars Schmidt
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320 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Roberto Patrone

    NO! and is easy to understand. for every kwh you intend to produce through this kind of unreliable sources you need to have the same amount of kwh ready to be produced from a standard and controllable power plant. This also means that the standard power plants need to be ready and usually underused with a low efficiency.

    • avatar

      After that comment from oil, coal and gas representative Roberto Patrone, let’s take time to consider just how much renewable energy potential remains untapped. In the UK, the one constant is extreme weather, we have wind in abundance, we also have daylight. Not vast swathes of daylight like spain has, but enough that some solar panels on the roof of my uncle’s roof has halved his electricity bill. So In a country where it’s rarely sunny, half of the electricity needs of a household are met through solar energy. There are solar power generating windows available also. It stands to reason therefore that almost all the energy requirements of the average house can be met by solar energy generated within the footprint of that house, throw in a few wind turbine farms which are almost always able to produce here, far more potential than solar energy, and you can replace the need for gas heating with electric heating and it would be 100% renewables. The only real barrier I see to transferring to renewable energy for all our energy needs is the costs involved, this key problem is a symptom of our capitalist culture, if we lived in a world where money didn’t exist and the best way to do things was simply the way that was implemented we’d already be using 100% renewable energy.

    • avatar
      Faddi Zsolt

      In 1 second so many kwh’s reach the Earth’s surface which is equal to whole worlds several year long consumption.

    • avatar
      Carolyn Chase

      Uhhhh, unreliable? Last time I checked, the sun, and gravity are quite reliable. If you’re just referring to wind, we better hope the earth keeps turning or we’ll have no problems at all ;-). The issue is how you think about the design of things and what you’re used. Sure, transition issues have to be addressed, but there is plenty of renewable power that will be cheaper after we make the transition. Just think – no having to ship dangerous fuels over distances long and short. I could go on, but my point is, you are only looking through your understanding of the past and not considering the benefits of innovations for the future.

    • avatar
      Roberto Patrone

      That’s not the issue in fact. The issue is the efficiency and the unreliability

    • avatar
      Roberto Patrone

      Anyway the real amount of energy per square meter on the sea level is not the one you have outside the atmosphere

    • avatar
      Christofer Sjöholm

      Few things are so reliable as the sun rising and the wind blowing. Hydroelectric power, that’s ben used as a source of power will in the future be exclusively used as equalization and compensation.

    • avatar
      Roberto Patrone

      Christofer Sjöholm you need the energy when you need not when the sun and the wind give you it. there is no other possibility that have other sources ready to start and give you the energy if the sun or the wind don’t. this means you CAN’T replace standard sources of energy

  2. avatar
    Wolfgang Mizelli

    there are no renewables. suncollectors, dams and wind generators do not regenerate. and the laws of thermodynamics are still valid.

    • avatar
      Тиберий Баръмов

      What an argumentation :)) Теоретично не е невъзможно. Началото вече е положено, останалото е въпрос на оптимизация.

    • avatar
      Андони Андреев

      Nuclear energy is one if the most beautiful things ever made by mankind. I agree that green energy should continue to develop and should cover different sectors of the economy, but the whole EU running on green energy is simply hilarious.

    • avatar
      Vinc Caz

      Андони Андреев you didn’t change your opinion about that yet??? come to seehow the nuclear powerplant are dangerous, even with strong lobying thez had to close a lot of theses in france

    • avatar
      Андони Андреев

      I was really sad when I learnt from Le Figaro that France plans to shut them down… :( The NPPs are just too beautiful, reliable and useful.

    • avatar
      Vinc Caz

      Is not beautiful, flower are beautiful, art is beautiful the NPPs are maybe useful but not beautiful. do not read Le Figaro, is the arm of capitalist and right wing :p

    • avatar
      Андони Андреев

      But it’s written in a more “ordinary”/ “people’s” French, so I can easily read it. I prefer Le Monde, but there the French language is more rich and complicated and sometimes I even wonder have I ever studied this language :D

    • avatar
      Vinc Caz

      Yeah Le monde is not easy to read even for some frenchs people

  3. avatar
    Renato Toni

    No! Il pay back period è tale che produce una accelerazione del consumo di energia tradizionale necessaria per produrre i generatori di energia alternativa.

  4. avatar
    Renato Toni

    No! Il pay back period è tale che produce una accelerazione del consumo di energia tradizionale necessaria per produrre i generatori di energia alternativa.

  5. avatar
    Borislav Valkov

    Only few countries accross the globe have the potential to go 100% renewables. As Mr Patrone said the main problem is that there must be standart controlable power plants acting as balancers. My state has the luxury of owning pumped- storage hydroelectric power plant that’s in the top 20 most efective in the world(1455 megawats) which acts as a balancer but still it’s not going to help us became 100% renewable.

  6. avatar
    Anatilde Alves

    It’s possible if people just start buying those electric cars, built those infrastructures that allow people to actually get around in those. FYI nuclear energy is considered renewable😉

  7. avatar
    Anatilde Alves

    It’s possible if people just start buying those electric cars, built those infrastructures that allow people to actually get around in those. FYI nuclear energy is considered renewable

  8. avatar
    Monique Taxhet

    It will have to eventually as fossil fuels are going to run out. The nuclear solution can’t be a 100% replacement for fossil fuel as it produces to much waste needing disposal and, as proven already can be very dangerous. So the world will have to work together to find a way of using renewables all the way. Not that this will happen in our lifetime, next millennium may be.

  9. avatar
    Тиберий Баръмов

    What an argumentation :)) Теоретично не е невъзможно. Началото вече е положено, останалото е въпрос на оптимизация.

  10. avatar
    Viorika Motoi

    Si se puede, no necesitamos el petrolio de nadie ,el Sol brilla parra todos! Claro a las grandes corporaciones constructoras de maquinas y coches no les interesa para poder someter a todos los pueblos a la dependecia de sus productos al precio que ellos quere!!!!!!!

  11. avatar
    Bobi Dochev

    Of course NOT!!! Just check what is the daily usage of oil then calculate what amount of energy is that then calculate what amount of new “green” power you should install!!!
    Now reaped the process with the coal for house heating and electricity production. If you still believe it can I can only hope one day the medicine will move significantly further and will help ;)

    So dear environmentalist please stop that shit how dangerous the cars are first of all lets solve the problem with the Fossil Power Plants it is much bigger!!!

    • avatar
      Tchoum Xav

      That’s not sustainable nor affordable.

    • avatar
      Davide Albertazzi

      Tchoum Xav fission not, but fusion is
      unlimited and clean

  12. avatar
    Bobi Dochev

    Of course NOT!!! Just check what is the daily usage of oil then calculate what amount of energy is that then calculate what amount of new “green” power you should install!!!
    Now reaped the process with the coal for house heating and electricity production. If you still believe it can I can only hope one day the medicine will move significantly further and will help ;)

    So dear environmentalist please stop that shxx how dangerous the cars are first of all lets solve the problem with the Fossil Power Plants it is much bigger!!!

    • avatar

      Oil is also used to make polymers. So simply looking at it’s consumption doesn’t show the figures required for finding alternative energies.

  13. avatar
    Tchoum Xav

    It shouldn’t be a question, it should be an imperative.
    Slow the economy, slow production, forget growth as an indicator.
    Well-being is what we should be after, not tedious jobs to pretend we’re “useful” to one another.

    • avatar

      If only we had a nuclear power source sufficiently far enough away from everyone that the risks would be minimal yet it supply enough energy to meet our requirements . . . . . . . Oh look, the Sun! Seriously renewable energy is ample to the task. The issue we have is energy management.

  14. avatar
    Martynas Nagevičius

    Yes, of course. Only state intervention we need to achieve this goal is to abolish direct and indirect subsidies for the fossil fuel.

  15. avatar
    Vinc Caz

    Андони Андреев you didn’t change your opinion about that yet??? come to seehow the nuclear powerplant are dangerous, even with strong lobying thez had to close a lot of theses in france

  16. avatar
    Thom Browne

    Wave power has yes to be developed and thats certainly renewable , So Yes to question posed ~~~

    • avatar
      Christofer Sjöholm

      Deep sea current electric have just as big potential and might be easier to develop.

  17. avatar
    Ingo Wagner

    If we stop focussing on electricity only, harvest the full potential of re heat and cold, start cascading energy use, they can. Also somebody would have to tackle transport before this is a serious quest

  18. avatar
    Chalks Corriette

    For me personally, I look forward to the day when we can live our lives with out polluting our planet. Whatever the technology ends up being, I will be happy to see it and use it. Things may not look so good right now, and I’m sure within a short few years it will be much better. You never know, we may find a way to clean the air faster and cheaper than we can find a way to produce clean energy. Who knows!

  19. avatar
    Rafa Díez Domínguez

    Answer: NO, they could provide certain energy for critical works, but not to maintain the current energy waste. To produce 1 solar panel you need 2 tons of coal, to produce wind turbine you need 20 tons of cooper. All these devices will work if the primary energy is working (enough sun radiation, enough wind) and even if you cover the earth with this devices they will arrive at 10% of the energy that humans currently use. Needles to say the huge amounts of lithium and other materials for produce bateries.

    • avatar
      Christofer Sjöholm

      A third of the surface of Sweden covered in solar panels would suffice for the whole worlds energy consumption.

  20. avatar
    Jean Claude Vanhoof

    By limiting the population to a sustainable level for the planet and by adjusting the type of engine, there are possibilities. See the side of collective heaters using depth to heat water etc etc

  21. avatar
    Mario Ghezzi

    Quante ghigliottine per i poveri uccelli come le aquile, quanti paesaggi violentati dall’ideologia ambientalista ….

    • avatar

      Glad I’ve finally found soihmetng I agree with!

  22. avatar
    EU Reform- Proactive

    Not in the foreseeable future or the next generation! “Ever”- is godly wisdom- known to EU politicians only!

    Looking at “professional” world energy projections done by EIA or similar institutions between 2012- 2040- gives a very good idea what the most likely development will be. Global 2012 power consumption (net) was ~18,600 TWh. Gross generation has to be ~18% higher due to grid & storage losses.

    They project an estimated 48% increase over 28 years = ~1.7%/year average. On condition & provided population growth, no major war, rise or fall in living standards and energy affordability for the masses remain stable. Nuclear is at the bottom, liquid fuel on top. Natural gas show the greatest increases. “Renewables ” show a similar increase as liquid fuel. Coal will remains stagnant & show no increase.

    No major or revolutionary changes are on the horizon, assuming that yet unknown new inventions & new technologies to men will not become usable, affordable but remain unavailable for the next ~30-50 years. The current mix will change but not change “significantly”- but never 100%!

    Further, OECD countries will grow less than non OECD countries. That indicates where all major developments & actions will occur. Provided, all find employment and can afford the rising cost in energy consumption to support raising their living standards as well.

    However, due to lower growth in the OECD & higher capabilities- a quicker change to renewable energy should be easier to achieve in OECD countries.

    • avatar

      I think there’s a critical difference between can they and will they. The answer to the first is yes, the answer to the second is the one you’ve just given.

    • avatar
      Mikael Andersson

      Search on youtube VPRO documentary and click on “the breakthrough of renewable energy” it’s 46min. Short about how much cheaper both solcells and windpower have been last 5-years.
      This documentary was made during 2016.

  23. avatar

    No , well not the current ones ,and please get rid of those horrible giant wind turbines

  24. avatar
    Peter Van Elslander

    let ‘s ask Musk his idea on this, i heard he is making a giga-factory, and i am willing to bet it will be running entirely on renewables

    • avatar
      Marek Nowicki

      Fuel cells are fossil type. Nuclear is fossil as well.

    • avatar
      Sean Arclight

      The Aluminium fuel cell is not a fossil fuel intensive type of energy source , in fact using the RUSI method of extraction and using recycled aluminium as well, this gives it an incredibly low carbon footprint, The casing is also reusable and the emissions from such a device would be hydrogen and oxygen when the aluminium oxide is reheated to remake the plates. As to nuclear energy, the mining, and construction of power plants are very bad in creating carbon and the worst pollution from these are a range of things like NO2 which is a worse climate gas than CO2.. Also, Radon from fuel processing and a range of other radinuclides. Then there is Fukushima type accidents and reprocessing pollution.

    • avatar
      Sean Arclight

      To be specific Fossil fuel is the burning of hydro carbons (ie oil and coal)

  25. avatar
    Bódis Kata

    Regarding energy issues most people think in terms of households and forget about the energy need of transportation and industry.

  26. avatar
    Roberto Patrone

    Christofer Sjöholm you need the energy when you need not when the sun and the wind give you it. there is no other possibility that have other sources ready to start and give you the energy if the sun or the wind don’t. this means you CAN’T replace standard sources of energy

  27. avatar
    Fausto Palermo

    and citizen are forced to pay for it, meanwhile those giant company raise the price up milking blood from people veins

  28. avatar
    Maia Alexandrova

    I think pollution, global warming and dangerous nuclear power plant incidents will eventually force humanity to drop the traditional energy sources completely by the end of this century. We simply have no other choice, if we want to ensure the survival of human life on Earth beyond our own life. Renewable energy is the future and it is not only possible, but imperative on us to find the right ways and technologies to utilise it 100%. The problem is that it requires much greater effort, readiness to invest funds, care for the planet and vision for the future and not that many energy companies and governments have them. They prefer to rely on easy money from oil and gas, rather than trouble their brains and invent new technologies. Saudi Arabia is a good example of this kind of laziness – all the sun they have and yet they couldn’t care less about using it. I think this is the most important thing to change. When the mentality of people changes, then it will be very easy to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy. We are not only talking about sun and wind, but also water and waste. I imagine the future when no waste will be left to rot in land fields or in the oceans and everything will be recycled or used to produce gas. Deserts do not have to remain such forever – they can all be covered with solar panels and provide a constant supply of electricity to millions of people in Africa and Asia. Rivers, seas and oceans also have an enormous power potential but this is still mostly wasted. Iceland, Norway and Sweden are a proof that when there is a will, there is a way. They will probably be the first to achieve 100% reliance on renewable energy. The rest of the world can only learn from them.

  29. avatar
    Ştefan Schindele

    I mean just as much as diesel and coal replaced sterling 100%, like…not. Some scarce fossil fuel consumptions will exist, yeah. Trillionth less than now, but yes.

  30. avatar

    Intermittent renewables replacing fossil fuels is a joke, mainly taking in mind the “Transportation Sector” heavily dominated by fossil fuels.
    “The 15 largest container ships emit as much air pollution as the world’s 760 millions cars”
    Where are the wind-powered ships? In the medieval era.

    “Renewable Energy is all Firsts:”
    “First battery 1749”
    “First solar cell 1877”
    “First windmill generator 1887”
    “Unreliables are a very mature technology, no matter the propaganda do expect any major breakthroughs. We need to go with what we have and find real scalable solutions.”
    “Time is short & getting shorter”
    “Suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.” – Dr. James Hansen(climate scientist)

  31. avatar
    Bogdán Róbert

    Not with today’s technology. We need to burn fossil fuel to maintain or even accelerate the technological progress rate, so we will have better options in the future, not available jet.

  32. avatar
    Paolo Ortenzi

    4 days out of 365? educate yourself… When the REAL costs of the german program Energiewiende will be revealed, it will be a shock for a lot of people…

  33. avatar
    Anas M Abdullahi

    Yes of course it is possible, but that is not happening in the near future. We are moving in the right direction and slowly but surely getting there. In the coming 20-50 years we will be close to the 100% mark given that we have advanced our technological competences fairly quickly the recent years. But it is hard to imagine that every household will get their energy from renewable resources since we have to create the same amount of energy that had been created before the replacement of fossil fuels. That is a problem that prevents the progression towards 100% renewable resources.

    There might be some inconsistencies when it comes to the creation of renewable energy because the energy is dependent on things we can not control such as the sun and the wind. But that can easily be patched by importing renewable energy from other countries that has an excess of that energy.

  34. avatar
    Bobi Dochev

    Completely and 110% NO! It will be real achievement if it can replace even 50%.
    If you left cars as your biggest enemy and focus on the Fossil power plants and replacement of the Fossil energy for the heating of the households – then you have chance to achieve something and save the world…

    • avatar
      Bódis Kata

      I think you’re forgetting about the industry and public transportation.

    • avatar
      Bobi Dochev

      Bódis Kata The industry, transportation – not so! Electric car are not much friendlier to the environment then the regular ICE cars

  35. avatar
    Chris Haji-michael

    It costs today about €20,000 to put a solar system on a house to provide half the energy needs for that house. This is not a big cost or area. If batteries are added and done on a large scale then my guess about €30,000 invested on the birth of a child will provide all the power needs for life, including transport needs. The cost is not as high as people think.

    • avatar
      Ante Radnić

      Who will recycle all these solars in 20-25 yrs?

    • avatar
      Nigel Giddings

      Solar Panel useful life 25 – 30 years, batteries much less…. hardly a solution for life

  36. avatar
    Nando Aidos

    Is the Earth round? Asked our ancestors.
    Will Ford Model Ts ever replace horse buggies? Asked our great grandparents?
    Will electric locomotives ever replace steam engines? Asked our grandparents.
    Will the transistor ever replace vacuum tubes? Asked our parents.
    Will I ever be able to carry a telephone in my pocket? We asked a few decades back.
    On and on and on…
    Will renewables ever replace oil? Are we still asking this shit?
    The answer is “absolutely YES” guys! Wake up!
    Take all subsidies out of oil and see if it is not already.

  37. avatar
    Brian Huebner

    Not the right question. Can the human race survive without eliminating fossile fuels and nuclear? Obviously not.

  38. avatar
    Sebastiano Schavoir

    We see electric cars, Teslas, all kinds of power generators exploiting natural energy. We have nuclear power and are researching fusion energy. Oil will one day be tomorrow’s coal. Its not idealogical to think so, it is a certainty. How can I be so sure? Easy: its a limited resource. The more its difficult to get the higher the price. For the momwnt its still fairly easy to get. Give me one example of technology that will have to keep using oil. These debates are mostly non-debates for me.

  39. avatar
    Todor Dzhambazov

    Of course they can but is there enough will to do it? Many Arabic countries won’t be happy. Countries rich in coal too.

  40. avatar
    José Bessa da Silva

    Obviously it can and if it can’t we are doomed. To start with fossil fuels are causing global warming, but if that wasn’t enough fossil fuels are…well…not renewable. If we run out of them, then what? We have no other choice other than green renewable sources. The fastest, the better.

    • avatar
      Vitor F Veiga

      Yes, it must…before planet earth becames Planet Mars 2.0…

  41. avatar
    Vytautas Vėžys

    1. No. It’s impossible like world peace. Some people simply don’t give a damn. Why should I pay more so our “pollution quotas” could go to China, India or other heavy industrialized countries?
    2. No. Cause guess what happens to markets in countries where production of local goods are more expensive?
    3. No. It’s not self sustainable. every “green energy” project get enormous funding from governments and is still here for this funding. Cut off them and all these “green energy” projects will be closed overnight.
    4. No. It’s not “green energy”. Produce this energy is more expensive and in many cases more polluting than fossil fuels (not even talking about nuclear energy).
    5. No. Cause all this “green energy” is just hype train. You should ask scientists questions like these, not Facebook readers or politicians who has no clue how even magnets work. You spending billions for “green power” projects even when science world say it will never become main energy source.

    Side thought: we will have cold fusion faster than you will reach 50% renewable energy worldwide… And in next 10000 years we will have next ice age. Good luck with renewables then…

    • avatar
      Jane Payet

      Is that why the temperature keeps rising and the ice on glaciers everywhere is melting? Is that why we havn’t had a white Christmas in god knows how long? Is that why winter has become one week of sub zero temperature in Feb?
      BRING IN THE SOLAR BABY whether the petrol lords like it or not!

    • avatar
      Vytautas Vėžys

      What you are talking about?
      In Antarctic amount of ice is rising…
      White Christmas was last Christmas…
      Sub Zero temperatures almost all winter even…

      You are like those people from South Park episode. It could be 2m of snow outside and you will still call it “global warming”…

  42. avatar
    Franck Legon

    Of course, hydrogen is the best way to stock it, and for distribution just a gas network like the one that exist for your cars, easy and quick. HLG is the key.

    • avatar
      Christofer Sjöholm

      I don’t think anyone ever dared transporting hydrogen through pipes. The molecule is tiny and the flammability enormous compared even to naturalgas that is rather flammable too.

  43. avatar
    Jean Charles Branco

    NO. because oil industry will continue to oppose to not loose heavy govermant subsidies and to keep stealing our money

  44. avatar
    Jovan Ivosevic

    We are approx 15 years away from that. Like computing power, renewable energy share of power generation has doubled every two years. We are currently at 2%. That’s 7 doublings away from 100% give or take a year.

  45. avatar
    Björn Eric Ingemar Grahn

    Yes off course we already have the technology we yust need to put it up. The problem is yust the political willingness cuse many is owned by oil companies. If it was after the last oil crisis we would already have it all installed. For some reason every thing is going mutch slower after the 80th

  46. avatar
    Michael Holz

    They have to. Otherwise, how compensate the energy shortage once fossil fuels run out?

  47. avatar
    José Bessa da Silva

    It is not a question of if it can or not, it MUST. Humanity has no other choice if we intend to prevent global warming. For those that claim for nuclear, let us be clear. Nuclear is a dangerous, wasteful and non-renewable energy, it is as part of the past as fuel, not to mention that mining uranium or plutonium is dangerous and leaves radioactiveness in the area and therefore many countries with reserves (like my country), are simply not willing to allow it’s mining.

  48. avatar
    Mohammad Naeem Malik

    راولپنڈی شہر-اور-کینٹ کے کاروباری ایریا میں،
    کمرشل پلاٹ____کمرشل بلڈنگ___پلازہ___ دکانات__ برائے فروخت۔
    نیز__ بہترین ___رہائشی پراپرٹی ___کیلئے بھی رابطہ کریں
    معلومات کیلئےفون یا میسج SMSکریں
    رابط_ اعوان پراپرٹی سنٹر__ریلوے ورکشاپ روڈ راولپنڈی

  49. avatar
    Παυλος Χαραλαμπους

    Not in the near future. .i hope i had a better answer but. ..even if we manage to convert all our vehicles to electric ones and produce 100% green energy we are going still to need fossil fuels for agriculture and food production to sustain our population. ..from drugs to plastics and lubricants to fruitalisers we talking about petrochemicals. .

    • avatar

      If you need enough energy, it is possible to produce petroleum, so plastics and lubricants etc. It is some the same for fertilizer that depends of minerals.
      But yes, it will be an addition needs just like the electric cars.

    • avatar

      If you have enough energy (sorry for the mistake).

  50. avatar

    Google will become 100% renewable, is it a sign of the movement towards renewables? What a joke. It is just an accounting trick. Google won’t change the structure of the energy consumption. 1/ They represent almost nothing, 2/ they have a lot of cash, 3/ and don’t pay the right amount of taxes due to tax optimization.


    First, your interviewee are not the good persons. In Europe, we have a network of true experts (because it is their job) that is called ENTSOE, i.e. the group of every TSO in Europe. They are the experts and nobody-else.
    Can renewables ever replace fossil fuels 100%?

    Your question depends on four components: 1/ the customer, 2/ the technology and the technical aspects, 3/ the structure of the investment and the energy market.

    1/ What kind of energy do we want? For the moment, we have access to a very stable and cheap energy at every moment (50hz) for final customer and facilities. If we consider the renewable at 100% with our current technology, so mainly PV and wind power, this high quality specification is not conceivable. Whether we need a lot of storage devices (for the moment not estimated properly, but the amount is insane), or we need to change our expectation about the electrical services.

    And don’t forget we want electric cars now. More than 70% of the transport that weights for one third of our total energy consumption is based on petrol. And don’t consider here the hydrocarbon based energy for heat because I don’t know the ratio of electric/hydrocarbon for this function.

    2/ The current renewable technologies consume more material to produce the same amount of energy than the hydrocarbon-based technology. Yield are smaller due to the less efficiency and less availability. If every country in the world starts its energy transition, we need to build all this NEW infrastructure. Thus, there will be a high risk of strains on the material market. So, the final price of the energy could raise much more than it is nowadays. What want the customer? What want companies (to be competitive)?

    3/ Currently, the investment is made for profit. The liberal structure associated with some feeds for renewable allow the development of the market of renewables (thanks to the “zero marginal price” effect). But the price of a such policy is the deterioration of the stability of the network. More and more backup power plant are not profitable now and will close. Maybe a market of capacity would be more smart but cost much more and imply a differentiated service. But are we ready to go for it?

    To sum up: It is a tricky question.
    So… if we want to keep our style life, that is not very good for more than 20% of our citizen in Europe, we need at least:
    1/ to increase the electrical production by at least 50% (electrical cars)
    2/ tranform the hydro-carbon capacity by renwable ones, so multiply the installed capacity by 2 or more (energy transition based on electricity)
    3/ and create a network of storage capacity big enough to tackle the intermittency otherwise the system is not conceivable for a convenient usage for the final customer and facilities. And regarding the fact the price of a such electricity will be higher than the hydrocarbon ones (because the EROI of the hydrocarbon energy were just insanely high), I’m not sure our liberal economies and policies based on competitiveness will be sustainable.

    Well, in fact, in France at the CNRS, we’re just becoming to start a study to know if the scenarii themself are possible, and what will be the negative externalities of a such transition. For the moment, regarding the state of the research, answering “yes” to this question is the same thing as praying god: nobody knows if it really exists, but some of us have faith to believe it.

  51. avatar
    Carmelo A. Costanza

    Eventually, since fossil fuels are not renewable energy source and will be depleted, alternative fuels will ultimately supercede antiquated and pollutant forms of energy that we currently utilize today.

  52. avatar
    Borislav Valkov

    In my state there a several untaped energy sources. Geothermal, Black sea’s fire ice and Sulfur hydrogen(can be extracted the hydrogen and the sulfur will replenish it’s sulfur hydrogen molecule in the debts of the sea) off shore wind farms and onshore mountain ranges wind farms. Not to speak about the mountains in one of which is one of the largest Pumped-storage hydroelectricity in the world….

  53. avatar
    Chris Pavlides

    The tenssion around mediteranean for the control of oil and gas its a tangible proof that renuables will remain a dream for the next 100 years.

    • avatar
      Ariano Ângelo

      And Portugal isn’t really trying to use the best of renewable it can. People who says that we can’t run 100% on that clearly don’t know what they’re talking about …

  54. avatar
    Kristijan Krkač

    Not very smart question, since it was, by all means, possible that life on Earth formed exactly as it is without natural forming of oil or coal. So everything would be the same only it would be 100% renewables for centuries.

  55. avatar
    Franco Suarez

    There is plenty of water and the technology to transform gas engines to run on water, but progress and independence, as Catalans are finding out, is impeded by powerful interests willing to destroy the planet and humanity, rather than risking losing control. And, by the way, petroleum is NOT a FOSSIL, it is presented this way to convince us there is a limited supply to keep its prices high. Please, don’t add to the confusion and propaganda keeping the status quo.

  56. avatar
    Μάρκος Κουντουρούδας

    Ofcourse ! Take as example, Germans who have putted under “Occupation” throught “Austerity” Greece and they pressure the Authorities in Greek Islands and historical places, like Sparta, Mystras, ecc. to “sacrifice” their nature beauty and archaeological places, just to put “wind-energy parks” to provide energy straight to Germany (leaving only a poor percentage of energy to the needs of Greek population) !

    • avatar
      Uli Czeranka

      Yeah sure. Energy goes directly to germany..seriously?

    • avatar
      Malte Rathje

      Stop blaming Germans for everything going wrong in Greece. Ridiculous!

    • avatar
      Μάρκος Κουντουρούδας

      Stop fooling around the other Europeans and behave towards them as Equals, not like “We Germans, Masters – All-you-the-rest, Slaves”. And Compensate Greece and Greeks for the WWII Nazi’s Atrocities and occupation loans… Oh ! And quickly…Time is Running Out…!!!

  57. avatar
    Lino Galveias

    microgeneration from sun and wind. Using better energy saving materials (such as cork for isolation and good construction), using mini solar panels in the shape of roof tiles, for example. Using trash to produce energy.
    Oil is fossil, it is the result of the transformation of old living animal and vegetal elements throughout the millions of years

  58. avatar
    Chris Pavlides

    Wind turbines …? NO.! They just serve certain interests. Tesla tech could be the answer.

    • avatar
      Iván Marsh Whateley

      that reminds me… people……. don t do … crack…
      PD: Wind turbines are made in Europe by Vestas for Example and sold in the states…

    • avatar
      Chris Pavlides

      Landscape, ecosystem balance etc were lost. Alternatives like sea waves sun etc are blocked.

    • avatar
      Antoine Che

      Tesla Technologies and renewables could provide all the energetic needs to humanity…

  59. avatar
    Róbert Bogdán

    In a distant future, absolutely yes. And burning fossil fuel today will ensure the technological progress, necessary for finding viable, efficient and cheap alternatives tomorrow. Humanity needs energy abundance for rapid progress but today only fossil fuel can ensure this.

  60. avatar
    Saul Crucero

    Yes, if there is political will on all governments of Europe.The lobbying of the OPEC and other oil-producing countries can hinder the construction and actuation of the Renewable Energy mechanisms.

  61. avatar
    Александър Михайлов

    Probably not. Renewables will always be dependent on the weather, and you won’t always have as much wind or sunlight as you would need, whereas, you would always be able to mine more fossil fuels, so long as the supply is not exhausted, although if it is, fossil fuel power is in trouble. We will in the future need to research more sustainable sources of energy, and never abandon a source of energy while we can still use it

    • avatar
      Björn Eric Ingemar Grahn

      Its a nesessety to get a way from te fossil fule. Wether its gas, oil, Cole or neuclear fule. Or we Will be doomed

    • avatar
      Александър Михайлов

      Why? What if you could find an abundant mineral that can power civilization for millenia to come? what if you could also mine it off-world?

    • avatar
      Vincent Kleijn

      yes, the ITER in Cadarache, France could be a great option. I don’t believe that windturbines can ever provide enough energy. Not even together with solar power. Maybe we have to heat up the earth even more so we don’t have to spend money to make the winters warm and everybody can go to the beach from February until end of January ;-)

    • avatar
      George Schinas

      They can surely replace fossil! A flexible grid with large and responsive storage capacities is the key ;)

    • avatar
      Ilias Chrysovergis

      Thanks for the answer. So, I do not have doubts now!

  62. avatar
    Mi Gu

    I think, this question has to be answered by experts that know about it; in any case, if it’s not possible, we need to change our consumer habits…

  63. avatar
    Antoine Che

    It could but their efficiency is optimum with small local units that in turn provide local autonomy with no count€r$ attached.
    The Energy Lobby will not let it happen that way…
    It will only allow solutions with a grid they control so it can take its cut…

  64. avatar
    Nuno Oliveira

    In Portugal they are around 40-50% of average electricity each year (if you consider hydro a renewable) and around 10-15% of total energy. It is possible to go towards 100% in 20-30 years but while all our investments and infrastructure is owned by China via a very shady local financial representation it is completely impossible. Hopefully trending battery and solar technology will help consumers to make centralized corporation control be more relative.

  65. avatar
    Arnout Posthumus

    It already has… If we wanted something done it can be done easily but you know how the market works and who are the big players..

  66. avatar
    Matej Mlinarič

    Those are the types of renewable energy sources. Just the part that you don’t get to hear is that you need constant and reliant energy production at any time in order to prevent blackouts. Solar and wind cannot be relied on to provide that. Only option with those is to store that energy. However amount of batteries that would be needed is not really viable cause there aren’t enough materials on the planet so have enough batteries for everybody globally. So there will always be a need to keep reserve of fossil fuels. Just having multiple systems to have partially renewable energy sources is extremely expensive. Those countries that rushed this and didn’t plan for energy efficiency to cover its cost ended up bankrupted. Energy is the main issue that will face humanity for decades, if not even centuries to come. So this technologies need to be greatly improved before they can be implemented on global stage. In meantime nuclear and hydroelectric are probably most reliant. Since there is no shortage of rivers in Europe.

  67. avatar
    Borislav Valkov

    If we can research an efficient tech that can transform CO2 into fuel, then yes, otherwise big no!

  68. avatar
    Rudi Spoljarec

    If that happens , according to some research of climatic cycle periods , we may be in danger to arrive in hard ice era . Who would desire it ?

  69. avatar
    Julia Hadjikyriacou

    Where there is a will there is a way. The EU can do it if they want to, put their mind to it, then take action accordingly.

  70. avatar
    Gajdos György

    Countries with seaside should also research the wave energy conversion into electricity because that’s a form of energy a lot more stable and dense then either wind or sun.
    Renewables can reduce the fossil fuel consumption to a very large degree.

  71. avatar
    Breogán Costa

    what is the point of asking something like this in a public forum, or social media?
    It’s just stupid, this question can just be answered by physicists/scientists in the area of energy production, plus data scientists (using available data to measure energy requests, and model future consumption) and economists working together.
    And it would not be an easy research.
    The only possible answer here is public opinion, that can be used probably just for PR or political campaigns.

  72. avatar
    Bella Ourique

    I think the question is rather whether we are willing to give up Convenience or not. The change does not only develop from the origin of the energy but also from the willingness to use energy consciously, to invest in insulating walls, roofs…or sacrify cozyness by not using dirty chimneys anymore but proper heating.

  73. avatar

    Given every job in the renewables industry costs a minimum of £100,000 in subsidies paid for by the end user then economically no, its an idiotic goal.

  74. avatar

    They’d better. Non-rewnewables are going to run out, as indicated by the name.

  75. avatar

    Yes, renewable + energy efficiency (waste reduction) can easily do that. As it stands, over 80% goes to waste in various forms.

    And, it does not matter initially cost as much, price will go down as technology improves. In any case “money” are just means to an end, the real deal is our environment and the future – people who don’t care about the future, don’t care about their children, and don’t care about their past, parents and grandparents who sacrificed so much to make a better life for them selfish brats.

  76. avatar

    We already have the technology in Nuclear power so why waste time, effort and massive amounts of money trying to reinvent the wheel ?

    • avatar

      1.Because the nuclear industry still has no solution to the ‘waste problem.
      2. The transport of this waste poses an unacceptable risk to people and the environment.
      3. Plutonium is the most dangerous material in the world.
      4. Nuclear waste is hazardous for tens of thousands of years. This clearly is unprecedented and poses a huge threat to our future generations.
      5. Even if put into a geological repository, the waste might emerge and threaten future generations.
      6. Nobody knows the true costs of waste management. The costs are so high that nuclear power can never be economic.
      7. The waste should be disposed of into space.
      8. Nuclear waste should be transmuted into harmless materials.
      9. There is a potential terrorist threat to the large volumes of radioactive waste currently being stored and the risk that this waste could leak or be dispersed as a result of terrorist action.
      10. Man-made radiation differs from natural radiation

    • avatar

      Karin Lodge Then we should be spending the money to solve those problems, not inventing new ones.

  77. avatar
    Franz M

    The technology is there, yes. The curent problem is the fossils lobby and the sice of energy companies that mostly deal with fossiles and some technologies have still low energ yields.
    However, in principle every technology needed to replace fossiles is there, so if politics want to it can accelerate the transition (research, funding of renewables which is also done for nuclear and fossile power). Novel nuclear power plants could help us fastening the abbondoning of fossile fuels.
    In order to prevent the clomate change from accelerating uncontroled we also need negative emission technologies and possibly geoengeneering.

  78. avatar

    Ivan Burrows, mining and enrichment of nuclear material is expensive and also has an impact on the environment.

    There is a huge nuclear reactor up in the sky, we call it the sun! Requires zero maintenance, zero fuel and is at safe distance! And the process of converting its radiation has been “invented” by nature billions of years ago! Also, harvesting wind energy, which is also a result of sun’s heat differential, with turbines, is similar in principle to a nuclear power plant turbine/steam power.

    So, reinventing what, may I ask? The way I see it, actually man made nuclear power falls outside of nature’s scope.

  79. avatar

    Nuclear is lethal not renewable.Natural gas is practically clean and plenty for many-many years and must not be replaced

  80. avatar

    I am not convinced. It’s clearly not if energy politic remains to country and to private company. It could be possible if we invest in country with renewable ressources (south and volcanic country with low people density). But I am still not sure it will be enough…

  81. avatar

    That would be a catastrophe for tax payers and the beginning of a revolution, but sure, go right ahead.

  82. avatar

    Renewables are an extension of fossil fuels. We are transforming coal and oil into solar panels and wind turbines, so no, it’s not possible. We will need to degrow.

  83. avatar

    Besides there are not enough raw materials, electricity cannot power heavy machinery, and most good spots already have wind turbines.

    • avatar

      Will you be the first to stop using electricity ?

    • avatar

      Ivan stopping using electricity is not an option for most people, but reducing usage should be doable. In any case it only matters if everyone does it, otherwise the Jevons paradox kicks in.

  84. avatar

    We are in the basic shoes of this tech. So lets see. Sofar it seems promising and i wouldnt know why not. Tesla making their insane truck for instance.

    On an other note. We have no real choice. Fossil fuels will die out at some point.

    • avatar

      They have been saying we are running out of fossil fuels since the 1960’s but all that happens is they find new ways of extracting it, acoustic sweeping, sand oil, LoSal, fracking etc.

      But even if it did run out we already have a proven replacement, Nuclear so why mess around with renewable that simply do not work ?

    • avatar

      Ivan it doesnt matter what they are saying or not. Im not bound by time. In the end it will run out. And it will be way faster then our sun.
      Nuclear isnt a replacement its not that cost effective aswel especialy if you would clean up the disasters. We still cant get rid of the waste so it would be stacking and waiting for a new disaster to come.

      Renewables on the other hand are evolving insanely so they are by no means on thier max. Everything on earth is powerd by the sun, we only have to harvest it. You do know that the sun is also a big nuclear reactor?

    • avatar

      Arnout It’s not a matter of renewable evolving it’s down to basic psychics, it cannot supply the needed energy, even if you covered the entire planet in windmills. Why try to capture then energy of the sun when we are able to reproduce the process the sun goes though to create it in the first place. Nuclear is only expensive because of the massive restrictions placed on it, the more nuclear power stations are built the cheaper they become, it’s basic supply & demand economics.

    • avatar

      Because the sun is free. And you saying it cant supply, ill reply again. The entire earth has been solar powered for mil of years.

      Again nuclear doesnt pay its disasters and doesnt count its endless junk. Once they come up with the actual full price it wont be cheap at all.

      Well there also is no demand for nuclear energy.

      Honestly why the hell use power that creates unusable junk. Or disasters that we cant even properly measure.
      While the other one is durable and reusable. Without the disasters. And easily can power us. It wouldn’t even take up much land.

      And then there are people moaning about resources. Which mainly only is about silver. Silver is just 1option that is the most effective right now. It might change if not we can still use less effective metals that we used in the past. And with the tech right now the price dropping isnt just due to the use of silver..

  85. avatar

    We should look at the whole carbon cycle and make it no-growth.

    I miss the reforestation projects.. Cities should be turned green with green roofs and creepers over house walls, and we should have trees along roads, rail lines, etc — on ever surface not in use for something else.

    • avatar
      Finbar Ryan

      Makes a lot of sense .Trees planted this way provide shade as well as sequestering carbon and improve air quality in cities. Better use is made of roofs does not interfere with food supply. Trees planted in this way also reduce cross winds on motorways a win win all around.

  86. avatar

    No it can’t. Simply because renewable could never supply the energy requirements of industry and the food production chain is wholly reliant on diesel with two million field tractors sold each year. Good luck trying to run them from a couple of solar panels on the roof.

  87. avatar

    Where there is a will, there is a way. Take down the energy giants for peace on earth, stop other countries selling us energy from bossing us around. Subsidise new energy instead of the old with our tax money. And nationalise banks, why are banks in private hands anyway??? They have no right to make almost the entire human race suffer for their insatiable greed. Islamic banking doesn’t charge interest and they still make a profit.

  88. avatar

    The short answer is: NEVER

    We may try, but the first result is the growth of the price of electric energy.

    But, the main problem is what could heppen If all the people consume the among of energy like in development country?

    It is obvious that we need to complete with renewable energy.

    The second problem is that energy market failed from many reasons, but the main is that we have administrative measure, by Directive, that have impact on free market.

    What will happen technically:

    – If we have more renewable in electric system, we will need more clasic Power plants to replace renewable. At first, let say 600 days. More renewable we will need a new technology for stockage. In this case will need only 300 days, but we will need.
    – This means that we must take in consideration continous technology and discountinous technology;
    – The continous technology will have small load factor, and higher cost.

    But we will have another problem. Maybe for Germany could be possible to have higher cost for energy, but for Romania it is impossible, this means that our industry failed, and the diference of development will increase.

    In this case couldn’t have the same target for renewable, în fact to reduce CO2, because today a German people consume twice – triple than Romanian.

    An finally, by the way, till where reduce CO2 ? If we don’t succed with energy, what will be the next? Human been also produce CO2 ?!?!

    Anyway become a more complex problem to resolve it and only a huge blackout will change this wrong direction.

  89. avatar

    They’ll have to. The real question is how long can we hold out until then.

  90. avatar
    Franz M

    zechnologies are existing, but not econpmically compatible yet. (raw materials, aviation etc.)
    With a wide usage of possibly availabe wind and solar power it is possible.

  91. avatar

    100%? nope you still going to need petrochemicals for food production,lubricants , plastics, isolation materials,electronic devices and the list goes on
    Even to build/maintain those solar panels and wind turbines you going to need petrochemicals
    Not to mention that some places of the globe would be unreachable with out fossil fuels..

  92. avatar

    Ever? I hope so. Until then I love fossil fuel. Fossil fuels make the world cleaner. It fuels our technological progress to discover alternatives for when it will be a rare commodity.

    • avatar

      I think it’s been established the consequences of fossil fuel will be devastating long before we run out though. I’d rather see us switch to nuclear to back up renewables. It’s been vilified but from what I understand that’s not justified at all.

  93. avatar

    Yes. Nuclear, geothermal and hydroelectric can replace large scale production. But some how they are overlooked in favour ov energy sources with lower efficency and higher cost, like solar and wind.

    • avatar

      Oscar – i agree on geothermal and hydroelectric but nuclear it’s to risky for me

    • avatar

      Παυλος – 70 yrs 4 accidents is still pretty safe. It is the most efficient . But probably the riskiest.

  94. avatar

    Some day, perhaps, currently – no

  95. avatar

    Simple thing-solar panel Park in Sahara.

  96. avatar

    100% is extremely unlikely ‘ given current technology & ever increasing demand.
    The overwhelming majority of population growth in next 50 yrs (2.5billion) will be in africa/Asia…infrastructure & generation/ransmission costs will have to reduce drastically.

  97. avatar

    100% no way. We sustain the human population thanks to petrol. From plastics to fruitalizers we need petrol. We even need it to build the solar panels and wind turbines them selves !!

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