Can the energy transition be limited to the construction of renewable energies, mainly solar panels, at low prices? This is something that is often heard or read.
This optimistic view would signal that the other dimensions of the energy transition would no longer be as necessary.
The world could thus continue as before. It is a version of climate skepticism that denies the radical changes that must be implemented so that the planet can stay on a sustainable path in the medium and long term.
Investment in renewable energy is a necessary condition but it is not a sufficient one to define the energy transition.
There are three major dimensions in the energy transition
1 – Energy consumption must be reduced. We must improve energy efficiency, but above all we must reduce our consumption. Biodiversity could not be satisfied with an identical world with simply a substitution of energy sources (see my recent post: “Limits to our freedom”)
2 – Within the various forms of energy used, there must be a substitution of renewable energies for fossil fuels. This step is essential. To reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, we must drastically reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, which in 2022 still accounted for 81% of primary energy consumption (the other 19% are nuclear, hydraulic, wind and voltaic).
3 – There is an urgent need to shift towards the trajectory of the energy transition. The global temperature profile by 2100 is converging towards a target above 2.5°C, well above the 1.5°C target set following the Paris Agreements.
The use of photovoltaic must replace fossil fuels to be part of the energy transition. That is not the case. Energy consumption is at its highest, there is no substitution on a global scale. Currently, renewable energies are thus added to fossil fuels. This is not compatible with the energy transition.
The urgency is such that solutions that will be operational in 10 or 15 years must not prevent us from doing everything now to reduce GHG emissions, before it is too late