In what’s pretty much a win-win-win scenario, MIT has published a new study showing that the impact of more renewable energy on the world will be reduced emissions, improved renewable energy technologies and lowered costs.
The research university’s study found that, among other things, electricity from solar power could drop another 50 percent by 2030 if the 195 nations that signed the Paris Climate Agreement meet their targets.
It’s not just solar power that could see a big drop, according to the study. The cost of wind power could drop 25 percent between now and 2030. MIT cited the need for countries to deploy low-carbon technologies to cut their emissions, adding that such deployment will help technologies improve and become less expensive.
The lowered costs are amplified further if countries reinvest savings as costs decline. Under such a scenario MIT argued countries can boost their solar deployment by 40 percent and wind deployment by 20 percent at the same level of investment as if they only invested in current technologies.
“The return on emissions reductions can be astonishingly large…and should feature prominently in efforts to broker an ambitious, long-term agreement among nations,” said MIT Assistant Professor of Energy Studies Jessika Trancik.
Regarding solar power, the Paris accord on climate would need to deploy 858 gigawatts (GWs) of photovoltaics by 2030 to meet their goals. “But if costs decline as forecast by the MIT team, then investing the same amount of money could fund the deployment of 1,210 GW — a 40 percent increase,” said MIT’s Nancy Stauffer in a piece about the report.
“So if developed countries invest their cost savings back into deployment, they could increase their emissions-reduction commitments without changing the total investment—and the larger those commitments, the faster costs may fall,” says Trancik. “If good decisions are made, by the time the least-developed nations are required to cut emissions, technology development may have lowered costs so much that switching to low-carbon energy is a benefit rather than a burden.”
The results of MIT’s analysis were previously presented at the White House and referenced by negotiators in Paris. Trancik was joined in the interdisciplinary study by a team of graduate students, Patrick Brown, Joel Jean and Goksin Kavlak.Tweet