»Europe can be completely self-sufficient with wind and sun«, study
Post date: 05/09/2019 - 16:39
The potential of wind and solar energy is large enough to supply Europe with one hundred percent electricity from renewable sources. A study by the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam concludes that at regional or local level, too, self-sufficiency can in many cases be calculated solely through these power plants. However, this will be accompanied by high land consumption in the conurbation of cities.
The results of the study can be checked online on an interactive map of Europe for each European region and municipality (https://timtroendle.github.io/possibility-for-electricity-autarky-map/). The map shows the potential for electricity generation from renewable energies and whether the region can supply itself with them. For Germany, the demand of the approximately 80 million inhabitants is about 493 terawatt hours (reference value from 2017), the potential yield from solar and wind power according to the study is 1,183 terawatt hours. Only the city Berlin cannot supply itself due to a lack of sufficient land; Vienna, Zurich, Geneva, Prague, Oslo and Budapest are also reaching the limits.
»Our results show how difficult it is, especially in densely populated metropolises such as Berlin, to cover one's own electricity needs with renewable energy sources,« says Tim Tröndle - »but if metropolises join forces with the surrounding regions, it would be feasible, because we have long since reached the technical stage.«
The authors from IASS and ETH Zurich, led by Johan Lilliestam, determined the technical potential of roof-mounted and ground-mounted photovoltaics as well as onshore and offshore wind turbines by analyzing the availability and permissibility of land areas. For this purpose, they took into account the current land cover and land use by settlements or agricultural areas, and included altitudes and local climatic conditions, which could be limiting factors for electricity generation from renewable energies. In this way, they determined the amount of electricity that can be generated taking technical aspects into account.
Even if the technical-social potential is restricted, for example by excluding nature reserves, the total potential at continental level is 15,000 terawatt hours per year, »which is more than four times the current electricity demand«. Even with »strict social constraints«, where the technical potential is reduced by over 90 percent, »Europe's potential for electricity from renewable energies is still high enough to achieve electricity self-sufficiency at the continental level«.