Here's how a 100% renewable energy future can create jobs and even save the gas industry

Here's how a 100% renewable energy future can create jobs and even save the gas industry
The gas industry of the future could manufacture and deliver renewable fuels, rather than mining and processing natural gas. Credit:

The world can limit global warming to 1.5 ℃ and move to 100% renewable energy while still preserving a role for the gas industry, and without relying on technological fixes such as carbon capture and storage, according to our new analysis.

The One Earth Climate Model – a collaboration between researchers at the University of Technology Sydney, the German Aerospace Center and the University of Melbourne, and financed by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation – sets out how the global energy supply can move to 100% by 2050, while creating jobs along the way.

It also envisions how the can fulfil its role as a "transition fuel" in the energy transition without its infrastructure becoming obsolete once natural gas is phased out.

Our scenario, which will be published in detail as an open access book in February 2019, sets out how the world's energy can go fully renewable by:

  • increasing electrification in the heating and transport sector
  • significant increase in "energy productivity" – the amount of economic output per unit of energy use
  • the phase-out of all fossil fuels, and the conversion of the gas industry to synthetic fuels and hydrogen over the coming decades.

Our model also explains how to deliver the "negative emissions" necessary to stay within the world's carbon budget, without relying on unproven technology such as and storage.

If the renewable is accompanied by a worldwide moratorium on deforestation and a major land restoration effort, we can remove the equiavalent of 159 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (2015-2100).

Here's how a 100% renewable energy future can create jobs and even save the gas industry
Interactions between the models used for the One Earth Model. Credit: One Earth Model, Author provided

Combining models

We compiled our scenario by combining various computer models. We used three to calculate the impacts of specific greenhouse gas emission pathways. We then used another model to analyse the potential contributions of solar and wind energy – including factoring in the space constraints for their installation.

We also used a long-term energy model to calculate future energy demand, broken down by sector (power, heat, industry, transport) for 10 world regions in five-year steps. We then further divided these 10 world regions into 72 subregions, and simulated their electricity systems on an hourly basis. This allowed us to determine the precise requirements in terms of grid infrastructure and energy demand.

'Recycling' the gas industry

Unlike many other 1.5 ℃ and/or 100% renewable energy scenarios, our analysis deliberately integrates the existing infrastructure of the global gas industry, rather than requiring that these expensive investments be phased out in a relatively short time.

Natural gas will be increasingly replaced by hydrogen and/or renewable methane produced by solar power and wind turbines. While most scenarios rely on batteries and pumped hydro as main storage technologies, these renewable forms of gas can also play a significant role in the energy mix.

In our scenario, the conversion of gas infrastructure from to hydrogen and synthetic fuels will start slowly between 2020 and 2030, with the conversion of power plants with annual capacities of around 2 gigawatts. However, after 2030, this transition will accelerate significantly, with the conversion of a total of 197GW gas power plants and gas co-generation facilities each year.

Along the way the gas industry will have to redefine its business model from a supply-driven mining industry, to a synthetic gas or hydrogen fuel production industry that provides renewable fuels for the electricity, industry and transport sectors. In the electricity sector, these fuels can be used to help smooth out supply and demand in networks with significant amounts of variable renewable generation.

Here's how a 100% renewable energy future can create jobs and even save the gas industry
Division of occupations between fossil fuel and renewable energy industries in 2015 and 2025. Credit: One Earth Model, Author provided

A just transition for the fossil fuel industry

The implementation of the 1.5 ℃ scenario will have a significant impact on the global fossil industry. While this may seem to be stating the obvious, there has so far been little rational and open debate about how to make an orderly withdrawal from the coal, oil, and gas extraction industries. Instead, the political debate has been focused on prices and security of supply. Yet limiting climate change is only possible when are phased out.

Under our scenario, gas production will only decrease by 0.2% per year until 2025, and thereafter by an average of 4% a year until 2040. This represents a rather slow phase-out, and will allow the gas industry to transfer gradually to hydrogen.

Our scenario will generate more energy-sector jobs in the world as a whole. By 2050 there would be 46.3 million jobs in the global energy sector – 16.4 million more than under existing forecasts.

Our analysis also investigated the specific occupations that will be required for a renewables-based energy industry. The global number of jobs would increase across all of these occupations between 2015 and 2025, with the exception of metal trades which would decline by 2%, as shown below.

However, these results are not uniform across regions. China and India, for example, will both experience a reduction in the number of jobs for managers and clerical and administrative workers between 2015 and 2025.

Our analysis shows how the various technical and economic barriers to implementing the Paris Agreement can be overcome. The remaining hurdles are purely political.

Explore further

State-of-the-art climate model shows how we can solve crisis

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.The Conversation

Citation: Here's how a 100% renewable energy future can create jobs and even save the gas industry (2019, January 24) retrieved 19 September 2019 from
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Jan 24, 2019
"Here's how a 100% renewable energy future can create jobs and even save the gas industry"
Unbelievable: "A headline "100% renewable" illustrated with a gas tanker"
"Fossil Gas Fuels are the new 'Renewable' Energy"
"100% renewable energy while still preserving a role for the gas industry"
Cognitive Dissonance

Jan 25, 2019
"...conversion of the gas industry to synthetic fuels and hydrogen..."
Wind and solar have low ERoI; otherwise, they would already be widely used to produce hydrogen and other synfuels(ammonia, methanol, dimethyl, etc.) to help to decarbonize the Transportation Sector.
"Wind and solar cannot be made significantly cheaper by attaching all kinds of things, like storage, hydrogen etc. They only reduce efficiency a lot and increase cost. There is a great solution: NUCLEAR. Compare France to Germany."
Angela Merkel: "At climate conferences Emmanuel Macron always has a little advantage over me because he has so many nuclear plants emitting so little CO2" - Jan 22, 2019.

"In REAL life, 100% renewables = 80% natural gas & 20% renewables. No wonder natural gas is the fastest growing fuel worldwide."

Jan 25, 2019
Cops in CA are doing their part

"Cops in Fremont, California are about to get a huge upgrade.

"The Department bought a 2014 Tesla Model S to replace an aging Dodge Charger. The idea is to find a new type of electric vehicle that could survive five years of active duty — while cutting emissions."

"The Fremont Police Department has already installed a solar array on top of the Police Complex's carport to charge electric cars, including the new Tesla."

-I would like to see this in a cop chase vid, driving through a field, doing a PIT maneuver... are the doors bulletproof, will the battery explode? etc.

Just curious. Also

"Fremont isn't the first city to buy Teslas for its police. Basel, Switzerland added seven Model X SUVs to its fleet in December. Canada's Ontario Provincial Police also showed off a converted Model X pursuit vehicle at last year's Canadian International Autoshow."

Jan 25, 2019
They only reduce efficiency a lot and increase cost. There is a great solution: NUCLEAR
The military is also doing it's part

"SCO basic requirements envision a reactor that can generate between one and 10 megawatts of energy, less than the average output for even a small research reactor, and weigh less than 40 tons. The final design would need to be portable by semi-trailer truck, ship, or a U.S. Air Force C-17A Globemaster III cargo plane.

"There are a number of potential concepts already in various stages of development that could meet SCO's requirements. The U.S. Department of Energy's own Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), in cooperation with the Westinghouse power company, has been working on one design called MegaPower for some time now. Westinghouse is separately working on its own eVinci micro reactor design."

-Suitable for offworld applications as well.

Jan 25, 2019
Scientists are purposely disregarding the energy and financial costs involved in creating synthetic fuels. If the conversion process is to make any sense it has to be powered by EXCESS renewable power. Thus, the converting plants cannot run 24/7. Then one needs to add to the cost of renewables the cost of running and maintaining the backup generators.

They are doing the public a great disservice by not mentioning the true costs of 100% 24/7 renewable electricity. The ignorant will vote for these plans not realizing the true cost of the final product.

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