Renewable energy can only power a less rich future
All available evidence tells us that a return to energy system that mostly rely on renewables will significantly shrink our economic activity. Unfortunately, the new optimistic term "free solar energy" gives too many people an incorrect impression that we could migrate off fossil energy while maintainng our standard of living and economic growth.
Coming Soon: Renewahles uptake and consequences are still weak compared to fossil energy use: And despite shrinking prices for solar PV panels, it is completely unrealistic that renewables will provide large enough contributions to maintain growth, irrespective of some small advanced economies where renewable energy become large contributors to energy systems (e.g. Denmark, Germany). The bottom line: a renewables-based economy will be a smaller economy: Given the limits of fossil stores, renewable sources WILL have to replace fossil fuels at one point, but this article demonstrates that the economic output possible from these sources will be smaller. What is equally important is that currently, all resources going into renewable technology are conventional, driven by fossil energy. If we want to migrate to renewable energy faster, supporting today's excessive consumption, we would need a tremendous amount of non-renewable resources to set up that infrastructure.