Most electricity today is provided by burning oil and coal. Yet the world is preparing for the eventual phasing out of fossil fuels and the gradual implementation of eco-friendly renewable energy.
Climate activist Greta Thunberg’s resounding UN speech could hasten the day when politicians must act.
However, during the gap between the decline of fossil fuels and the rise of renewables, energy bills could experience uncontrollable spikes.
This will be due to various factors such as deteriorating grids, increasing energy demand, errant weather, and renewable infrastructure not keeping pace with demand across the grid itself.
Countries throughout the world have begun retiring fossil fuel and nuclear-powered energy infrastructures.
Blackouts, heat waves, and soaring demand means that consumers are getting hit with massive bill increases renewable energy infrastructures pulled in to make up the difference.
In mid-August 2019, a heatwave, increased demand, and numerous coal-powered energy plant retirements stressed the system and almost caused blackouts in Texas.
Clean power cost
California is planning to implement a 100% clean energy system by 2045. Severin Borenstein, an energy expert at the University of California at Berkley, believes it will take better informed strategies to changeover infrastructures.
“We have to have systems in place to make sure we still have enough generation on the grid,” said Borenstein. “Or else, in the best case, we have a blackout, and in the worst case, we have some kind of grid collapse.”
Yet renewable energy is becoming the cheapest way to generate energy. The average cost of electricity dropped by 26% when generated by renewables.
Climate aside, the world can’t practically rely on the fossil fuel-powered energy infrastructure for much longer. Global reserves of oil and natural gas will be depleted within 50 years. Coal deposits could probably become depleted within 150 years.
Fossil fuel resources won’t just vanish. They just won’t be a globally viable business practice anymore, especially compared to their profitability during the 20th century.
In 1980, the fossil fuel industry generated 4.51% of global GDP. That percentage fell to 0.80% in 2016 but rose to 1.10% in 2017.