This amount of oil would be replaced by ~800 TWh of electricity, which could be generated by a ~450 GW park of renewables (wind and solar). The investment required for this renewable capacity would be in the range of €500 billion, which can be paid back in about 7 years by the savings made in imports.
Going electric not only diverts money from imports to indigenous industry, but it generates net savings after a few years of operation.
To illustrate this principle, let’s compare two routes to use renewable power in mobility. Direct use of electricity in a battery electric vehicle shows an overall efficiency of about 70% (grid losses, electric motor and power electronic losses, battery use, mechanical losses). Indirect use through syn-fuel and an internal combustion engine shows an overall efficiency of 13%, more than 5 times lower (power to liquid efficiency, transport, internal combustion engine losses, mechanical losses).
A recent (August 2017) working paper by IRENA considers how renewables (RE) and energy efficiency (EE) can work together to contribute to global energy decarbonisation by 2050. Three key conclusions are:
- A combined approach of RE/EE offers the most timely and feasible route to decarbonising the global energy system.
- The cost-competitiveness of technologies varies by country, but deployment of RE/EE technologies together results in overall savings to the energy system across all countries.
- All countries have significant untapped and economically attractive RE/EE deployment potential, beyond what is foreseen in national plans.
Biofuels can reduce greenhouse gas emissions to varying degrees, when compared to fossil fuels. The reduction potential varies between 10% and 90%, depending on the fuel used and how it is managed (in some extreme cases, due to land use change, the carbon balance can be even worse than the fossil alternative).
A new development since 2012 is the rapid electrification of transport, for which there is both political momentum and market developments. In carbon-intensive electricity systems, some biofuels can perform well, but on average, electricity works better than most fuel types, and will do so increasingly as the electricity system decarbonises.
The US was the first to build large-scale hydropower stations; and now these installations are ageing. Upgrading them could boost the hydropower output at a cost of less than 4 cents /kWh without the environmental disruption of new dam construction. This also applies in Europe and for other types of renewable energy: technology keeps on developing. Upgrading and repowering existing sites is rapidly becoming an interesting market for hydropower. The same trend can be observed for wind energy plants.