Can 100% renewable energy power the world?

Every year, the world uses 35 billion barrels of oil. This massive scale of fossil fuel dependence pollutes the Earth and it won’t last forever. 

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Scientists estimate that we’ve consumed about 40% of the world’s oil. According to present estimates, at this rate, we’ll run out of oil and gas in 50 years or so, and in about a century for coal. 

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On the flip side, we have abundant sun, water, and wind. These are renewable energy sources, meaning that we won’t use them up over time. What if we could exchange our fossil fuel dependence for an existence based solely on renewables? 

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We’ve pondered that question for decades, and yet, renewable energy still only provides about 13% of our needs. 

That’s because reaching 100% requires renewable energy that’s inexpensive and accessible. This represents a huge challenge, even if we ignore the politics involved and focus on the science and engineering.

Be sure to watch the TED-Ed Lesson Can 100% renewable energy power the world? – Federico Rosei and Renzo Rosei to understand what the switch to renewable energy would involve.

Animation by Giulia Martinelli