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A switch to renewable energy from fossil fuels could save trillions


As gas prices soar as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, climate change and the cost of living is now at the centre of household conversations. Families are researching how to achieve lower energy bills, politicians have worked to enact price caps on fuel costs and gas, and scientists are battling with the ever-present threat of a warming world.

Academics at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford, have published a report which estimates the cost of our future energy system, depending on whether there is no transition to renewables, a slow transition, or a fast one. These three ‘speeds’ have different costs, and climate sceptics would argue that a fast transition to renewables would be too costly and unviable. The report, however, dispels this myth.

Over the last few decades, renewable technologies such as onshore wind, solar photovoltaics, and battery storage have decreased by around 10% in cost each year. Since 1980, these renewable technologies have also produced more and more ‘useful’ electricity, as technological and efficiency advancements have been made. The report asks: is there a path forward that can get us to Net-Zero emissions cheaply and quickly? The report concludes, after much empirical analysis, that a rapid rollout of renewable energies across the globe is the only way to achieve this. The Oxford academics found that this route would save as much as £10 trillion by 2050. 

Dr Rupert Way, the report’s lead author, said: “Our latest research shows scaling-up key green technologies will continue to drive their costs down, and the faster we go, the more we will save.”

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