New Study: Current policy frameworks hinder expansion of renewable energies worldwide and undermine climate targets

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Berlin (December 18, 2020) – While governments around the world spend billions of dollars to rebuild economies in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, they fail to steer investments into the urgently needed energy transition. Not only are the deployment targets across the globe far too low to deliver the exponential growth of renewables required and therewith meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement, but also the increasing use of renewable energy auctions creates substantial additional barriers to achieving exponential growth. The latter is the result of a new study commissioned by the energy policy think tanks Energy Watch Group, World Future Council/Global Renewables Congress and Haleakala Stiftung. In particular, this finding applies to the market segments of small and medium sized renewable energy projects, which can significantly enlarge total deployment capacities and are also crucial for local employment and regional development.

The report, which based its extensive analysis on empirical observations in more than 20 countries worldwide, concludes that a wider policy mix is urgently required to allow for an aggressive expansion of renewable energies. The authors recommend adjusting the use of individual policy instruments depending on the market segment:

  • Continued use of auctions for large-scale projects
  • Use of feed-in tariffs or feed-in premiums for small and medium sized projects
  • Use of self-consumption policies for very small-scale projects

Six key shortcomings of auction-centered energy policy frameworks:

  1. Auctions fail to provide fair access to everyone and deter small-scale actors.
  2. Auctions do not promote a variety of project sizes, as larger projects are typically successful in outbidding smaller ones, frequently excluding small and medium-size projects.
  3. Auctions foster market concentration by favouring financially strong and large actors.
  4. Auctions impair important conditions that support the acceptance of new projects.
  5. Auctions often suffer from under-subscription, project cancellations or delays, hampering the timely achievement of renewable energy expansion targets.
  6. Auctions do not guarantee low remuneration levels, nor have they caused the recent cost reductions of renewables.

“The findings of the report clearly show that auctions are a crucial factor hindering the exponential growth of renewables. This alarming trend jeopardizes international governments’ compliance with the climate targets agreed in Paris, as the switch to low-cost and technologically mature renewable technologies is key to drive emissions down to zero.” says EWG’s president Hans-Josef Fell. “In many parts of the world, renewables are now the cheapest source of energy generation. At the same time, the socio-economic benefits of renewables are not sufficiently reaped and investments into green energy are stagnating.”

New data published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) confirm that investments in renewable energy have been declining since 2017, a trend that is likely to continue throughout 2020/2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Auctions have become a popular instrument for the deployment of renewables while fulfilling other development goals. IRENA has extensively studied the strengths and weaknesses of auctions and continues to analyze innovative designs that can achieve the multiple objectives of procuring renewable power at the lowest price, maximizing the socio-economic benefits, ensuring project timely completion, and supporting the integration of higher shares of variable renewable energy into the system. The findings of this new study provide valuable insights for further analyzing the effectiveness of policy designs for these objectives.” comments Francesco La Camera, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

Anna Leidreiter, Project Lead Global Renewables Congress at the WFC, emphasizes: “Renewable energies have to provide the lion’s share of electricity, heating, cooling and transport-related needs in the next decade. To meet this ambitious goal, everyone needs to be part of this transition. We need political frameworks that open up the energy market for new players. This study shows that auctions alone cannot serve this purpose.”

”If the EU really plans to put the Paris climate targets into practice, the new Renewable Energy Directive must give EU Member States full flexibility to choose their own policy instruments – in line with the energy sovereignty enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty. To this end, scrutinizing state aid for renewable energy must be restricted.”, states co-author Dörte Fouquet of Becker Büttner Held (BBH).

Mark Z. Jacobson, one of the scientific voices behind the Green New Deal, observes that in the USA, “the expansion of renewable energy at the utility level has worked quite well with the spread of Renewable Portfolio Standards. But we must also strengthen community-based, decentralized as well as medium-sized investments in clean, renewable energy in order to achieve the objectives of the upcoming Biden administration, namely a completely emission-free power sector by 2035. To this end, the study provides valuable science-based policy recommendations.“

The full study by Dr. David Jacobs (IET – International Energy Transition), Katherina Grashof (IZES), Dr. Pablo del Río (Spanish National Research Council – CSIC) and Dr. Dörte Fouquet (Becker Büttner Held) is available below.

Media contact: Charlotte Hornung / +49 30 609898815 /

The press release is available in English & German.


Full Study Executive Summary English Executive Summary German
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About the Energy Watch Group
The Energy Watch Group (EWG) is an independent, non-profit think-and-do tank based in Berlin. We are dedicated to accelerating political action towards renewable energy and climate protection through scientific analysis, policy advice and dialogue.

About the World Future Council/ Global Renewables Congress
Global Renewables Congress (GRC) is a new network of parliamentarians dedicated to upscaling renewable energy solutions. It was initiated by the World Future Council (WFC) and co-financed by the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU) and Mercator Foundation.,

About Haleakala Stiftung
The Heleakala Stiftung was founded in 2008 by Dr Paul Grunow and Frauke Eysell and is fiducially managed by GLS-Treuhand e.V.. The foundation supports people and initiatives that help to make the world more sustainable for mankind and nature. This applies in particular to the implementation of educational projects, respect for human rights and the environmentally friendly restructuring of our energy supply with renewable energies.

The rocky road to truthfulness in climate politics

Key messages

It is widely scientifically recognised that a global temperature increase by more than 2°C threatens to lead to a so called Hothouse Earth scenario in which human civilisation as we know it can no longer exist.

While point of no return is near, this possibly extinctive threat is not perceived as such by the political world, the media and to some extent not even by science itself. Political goals and scientific scenarios which still involve the use of fossil resources and therefore include greenhouse gas emissions after 2030, meaning after exceeding 1.5°C, inevitably lead to a Hothouse Earth.

For this reason, scientists designing scenarios based on climate neutrality by 2050 must clearly articulate that such a path cannot be a contribution to averting a global climate catastrophe. In most cases, however, such scenarios do not contain any warnings of that kind. In doing so, some climate scientists also contribute to the fact that humanity is not taking the necessary measures to combat the climate crisis.

The central Paris target of 1.5°C will be exceeded by 2030 at the latest, and even compliance with 2.0°C will only be achievable through an immediate and profound change of course. Anyone who claims that the Paris agreement could be met with the target of climate neutrality by 2050, like the European Commission, is simply deceiving the public.

At the same time, it is technically and economically possible, albeit with the greatest efforts, to implement a global zero emissions economy in conjunction with large carbon sinks by 2030. This requires political will with a clear agenda, which is supported by climate-sensitive media, and backed up by sustainable economic structures and the efforts of each and every one of us.

Anyone who considers such rapid change unrealistic should at least admit that they cannot propose an alternative way of combating the climate crisis and safeguarding human livelihood.

Read the full Policy Paper right here: Download

The path to climate neutrality by 2050 misses the Paris climate targets

Policy Paper: The path to climate neutrality by 2050 misses the Paris climate targets

New Report on Stimulating Community Energy Investment

(9 December 2020) Citizen-led renewable energy projects – commonly known as “community energy” – can play an important role in the energy transition and a post-COVID recovery by maximising the local socio-economic benefits of renewables and increasing public support for the energy transition.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Coalition for Action’s latest white paper reviews measures that stimulate and sustain community energy. Although renewable energy investments by citizens and communities have gained traction in many countries, knowledge exchange on a global level has been limited. This paper fills the gap by showcasing policy measures and financing mechanisms that reflect best practices and offering recommendations to governments and financial institutions on how to accelerate community energy development and reap its benefits.

To scale up community energy investments, the Coalition for Action recommends the following seven actions for governments and financial institutions:

  • Build awareness and develop a shared understanding of community energy.
  • Adopt targets and policy designs that value citizen participation and local socio-economic development.
  • Establish dedicated agencies or one-stop shops to support community energy.
  • Facilitate community access to capital through targeted public finance.
  • Support innovative financing mechanisms and business models for community energy projects and the most vulnerable.
  • Encourage aggregation of and collaboration between community energy projects.
  • Integrate community energy in energy access and local development programmes.

To view the IRENA Coalition for Action white paper, please click here.

The press release is available in English & German.

Media contact: Charlotte Hornung / +49 30 609898815 /


Statements by the EWG’s co-authors of the community energy white paper

Charlotte Hornung

“The active involvement of citizens and communities worldwide has helped to keep the costs of renewable energy low and the acceptance of the energy transition high. And yet community energy projects still face significant challenges that limit their enormous potential. We therefore call upon policy-makers to urgently establish framework conditions that create a level playing field for community energy and do not leave this key actor behind.”

Hans-Josef Fell

“The community energy white paper clearly shows that community energy is indispensable for the rapid deployment of renewable energy in order to meet the global climate goals. Especially the EU member states and particularly Germany are called upon to immediately implement the EU directive on the support of community energy. Legislators all over the world should grant fixed feed-in tariffs for investments up to 50 MW instead of auctions, as civic investors usually cannot participate in auctions.”

About the Coalition

The IRENA Coalition for Action brings together leading renewable energy players from around the world with the common goal of advancing the uptake of renewable energy. The Coalition facilitates global dialogues between public and private sectors to develop actions to increase the share of renewables in the global energy mix and accelerate the global energy transition.

About the Energy Watch Group

The Energy Watch Group (EWG) is an independent, non-profit think-and-do tank based in Berlin. We are dedicated to accelerating political action towards renewable energy and climate protection through scientific analysis, policy advice and dialogue.

Leading Renewable Players Urge Governments to Re-align Recovery Measures with Paris Agreement

(7 December 2020) With the Paris Agreement celebrating its fifth anniversary this week, all eyes are on the world’s governments to urgently scale-up climate action.

In a renewed call to action, over 100 leading renewable energy players, as members of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Coalition for Action, urge governments to correct course. By placing a renewables-based energy transition at the heart of an economic recovery from COVID-19, governments can foster economic resilience and secure a climate-safe future.

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, governments have demonstrated their capacity to mobilise efforts and recovery packages at historically unprecedented levels. While some countries have announced more ambitious climate commitments as part of their measures to achieve sustainable and resilient economies post-COVID-19, many others have yet to take decisive actions to move towards a green recovery.

To date, G20 countries have committed at least USD 233 billion in supporting the fossil fuel sector and fossil fuel-dependent industries. These billions represent a missed opportunity to accelerate the energy transition and to power long-term job creation and investment opportunities at a time when we need them most.  The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)’s post-COVID-19 recovery agenda shows that investments strategically targeted at renewables can put the world on a climate safe path and generate wider socio-economic benefits. Every million dollars (USD) invested in renewables would create three times more jobs than in fossil fuels.

“The COVID-19 recovery measures must be used consistently for a transformation towards a global zero-emission economy based on 100% renewable energy. Only this way, we can ensure climate and health protection at the same time – as a renewable energy transition will also eliminate harmful air and water pollution, thus reducing the number of people in high-risk groups for COVID-19,” says Hans-Josef Fell, President of the Energy Watch Group, a Berlin-based think tank and member organisation of the IRENA Coalition for Action. “The current crisis has shown that rapid and serious government intervention to protect the wellbeing of citizens is possible. Similarly, consistent decisions are now needed for measures that coherently realize environmental protection on the basis of health care and climate protection.”, David Wortmann, member of the Coalition’s Steering Group and Board Member of the Energy Watch Group, adds.

Building on its previous call to action released in April 2020, the Coalition for Action now urges governments to reset their recovery priorities through the following six actions:

  1. Re-evaluate stimulus measures and correct course to ensure a green recovery in line with global climate objectives.
  2. Raise policy ambitions and clarify long-term plans for renewable generation and consumption, both centralised and decentralised.
  3. Ensure energy markets can deliver continuity and stimulate investment and growth in renewables.
  4. Prioritise renewable energy as a key component of industrial policies.
  5. Align labour and education policies with a just energy transition.
  6. Intensify international co-operation and action on COVID-19 while recognising renewable energy as a key part of the solution.

Through these six actions, governments can align their economic recovery from COVID-19 with their climate plans, deliver on their commitments under the Paris Agreement, and come back stronger than ever from the COVID-19 crisis.  Now is the time to use the momentum of a green recovery to continue building broad public support for the transformative decarbonisation of societies and pave the way for equitable, inclusive and resilient economies.

For a more detailed view of the IRENA Coalition for Action’s renewed Call to Action, please click here.

The press release is available in English & German

Media contact: Charlotte Hornung / +49 30 609898815 /

About the Coalition

The IRENA Coalition for Action brings together leading renewable energy players from around the world with the common goal of advancing the uptake of renewable energy. The Coalition facilitates global dialogues between public and private sectors to develop actions to increase the share of renewables in the global energy mix and accelerate the global energy transition.

About the Energy Watch Group

The Energy Watch Group (EWG) is an independent, non-profit think-and-do tank based in Berlin. We are dedicated to accelerating political action towards renewable energy and climate protection through scientific analysis, policy advice and dialogue.

A Green Power Pathway for Taiwan

Berlin, Germany/ Hsinchu City, Taiwan (21 October 2020). The Berlin-based think tank Energy Watch Group (EWG) has received a mandate from the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), a world-leading applied technology research institute headquartered in Taiwan. The aim of the strategic cooperation is to outline a detailed pathway towards a fully sustainable power system for Taiwan by 2050 or earlier. Along with a comprehensive scientific simulation of a cost-efficient and technology-rich transformation towards a 100% renewable power sector, policy recommendations for the implementation of the green power pathway in Taiwan will be developed.

The project period starts immediately and lasts 15 months, with results expected by the end of 2021. The modelling study is carried out by an international team of experts under the scientific direction of Dr. Christian Breyer, Professor for Solar Economy at LUT University, Finland and Chairman of the EWG Scientific Board.

Contact: Charlotte Hornung,, +49 30 609898810

The Energy Watch Group (EWG) is an independent, non-profit think-and-do tank based in Berlin. We are dedicated to accelerating political action towards renewable energy and climate protection through scientific analysis, policy advice and dialogue.

The Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) is a not-for-profit R&D organization engaging in applied research and technical services. Its mission is to drive industrial development, create economic value, and enhance social well-being through technology R&D.

A brief analysis by the Energy Watch Group

Today, the International Energy Agency (IEA) published its World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2020. While showing improvements in some areas, the report remains inconsistent with the 1.5°C target. This year’s WEO focuses on recovery measures in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis, but – as usual – falls far short of what would be necessary in terms of climate and energy policy. In recent years, the IEA had continuously and significantly overestimated the use of fossil and nuclear energy sources and, in return, underestimated the expansion of renewable energy. As a result, the IEA has become one of the main causes for the increasing GHG emissions and the Earth’s overheating.

Although the IEA’s figures on costs and expansion rates of renewables are approaching reality, which cannot be said about past WEO’s, even with the new WEO 2020, the IEA again demonstrates its irresponsibility towards climate protection, encouraging the continued long-term use of fossil fuels.

The WEO’s assessment on climate protection in their Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS) is downright grotesque. The scenario sees a 50% probability of global warming not exceeding 1.65°C above pre-industrial levels, if zero emissions are achieved as late as 2070. In view of a current global temperature increase of 1.3°C, as recently measured by climate researchers of the EU climate research institute Copernicus, this is completely absurd. During the past decade, world temperature has risen by 0.18°C. Within the ongoing and the next decade, temperature rise is expected to further increase by 0.2°C each, so that 1.7°C will already be exceeded by 2040 at the latest. And even if all emissions were to be stopped by 2030, the Earth would continue to heat up significantly. For the year 2040 however, the SDS still foresees about 45% of today’s greenhouse gas emissions. Clearly, this has nothing to do with a “sustainable development” scenario.

The WEO 2020 has improved its projections in some areas. Yet, the projections are neither sufficient nor optimistic enough. PV, for example, is expected to grow from 600 GW to 5900 GW until 2040 (11.5% per year), and wind power from 620 GW to 3000 GW (8% per year). Compared to earlier IEA publications, this is an improvement in the right direction. For comparison, the respective projection for PV in the WEO 2019 was 4800 GW. Moreover, the stated PV costs for the first time represent the actual conditions. Still, no further conclusions are drawn from the fact that PV is the most cost-effective form of electricity generation today, although it will restructure the energy system much faster than the WEO 2020 envisages.

Nuclear power generation is expected to increase from 2,800 TWh to 4,300 TWh in the SDS. This seems odd in view of the fact that nuclear energy is the most expensive form of electricity generation and is associated with great problems in terms of technology, economic viability and security policy, as well as considering that the construction period of a nuclear power plant is usually well over 10 years.

Oil consumption in the transport sector is expected to fall only slightly by 2030 – the high dynamics of electric mobility are not anticipated. After all, coal use is expected to decline significantly by 2050. Yet, electricity generation from natural gas is only expected to fall from 6,300 TWh to 4,550 TWh by 2050. This means that fossil gas is believed to have a bright future ahead. This is an extremely dangerous message for any climate protection efforts, as methane emissions are increasing dramatically and fossil gas is no less harmful to the climate than coal.

As the WEO is still seen in many places as the most relevant and precise forecast of the future energy system, the report has the potential to influence future private and public investments worth trillions. In addition, the WEO scenarios will also serve as reference points for any climate targets that are adopted in the run-up to the global climate talks (COP) 2021 in Glasgow.

Conclusion: With this year’s WEO, the IEA remains true to its irresponsibility by further encouraging a long-term use of fossil and nuclear energy sources, apparently without including neither the necessity, nor the economic, social and political opportunities of a fast and comprehensive transition to 100% renewable energy. In recent years, various research institutes have demonstrated the feasibility of 100% renewable energy by or before 2050. Thus, the IEA, as the world’s most influential authority on energy issues, remains one of the leading players to be named when asking ourselves why the world community cannot find a viable pathway towards climate protection.

Downloads: English, German

New Study on Shortcomings of Renewable Energy Auctions

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Despite the urgency of establishing effective climate protection and a sustainable economy, the expansion of renewable energy is lagging far behind its potential in many regions around the world. In Germany and other countries, it is becoming apparent that the recent shifts from feed-in tariffs to auctions are accompanied by a number of negative developments that include a decline in investments, the exclusion of community energy projects and the absence of cost reductions. For several years now, the Energy Watch Group has been observing and drawing attention to this dangerous development that has been widely neglected by politics and the public.
With a new large-scale study, we want to shed scientific light on the effects of the transition to auctioning

After months of intensive discussions with various stakeholders, we have assembled a team of leading scientists who are now compiling an extensive global summary on the shortcomings of renewable energy auctions. With this new scientific evidence, we want to give policymakers the necessary impetus for a change of course – towards an accelerated expansion of renewable energy worldwide. In order to finance this project, we have started a crowdfunding campaign and need your support!

New investments in renewables decrease, community energy is being pushed out of the market. Our president Hans-Josef Fell about the necessity of a political turnaround.

Please support this project with a few clicks!

Time is pressing, and the political course will be set this fall: With the European Green Deal in the pipeline, the German Bundestag scheduled to amend the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) and many legislative amendments pending outside the EU, the next decade of energy policy will be decided upon this year. Our planned study is already partially funded but in order to raise funds for the remaining costs of 24,000€, we have launched our first crowdfunding campaign. Our goal is to incorporate the results of the study into the public debate and policy-making processes already from September onwards, and we need your help to put this plan into action!

… and spread the word!

Stimulating investments in sector coupling and innovation: Energy Watch Group proposes new law for reliable and adequate renewable energy systems

Berlin (May 14, 2020) – On the occasion of this year’s 20th anniversary of the German Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), the Berlin-based Think-and-Do Tank Energy Watch Group (EWG) presents a legislative proposal to stimulate the system integration of renewable energy. The underlying purpose of the policy proposal is to allow renewable energy sources to finally assume responsibility for the system security of the power supply – i.e. to cover the required energy demand at every hour of the year. With a so-called combined power plant tariff, the instrument intends to stimulate investments for full demand coverage by 100% renewable energy. Based on own techno-economic cost estimates and a legal examination of EU regulations, the EWG proposes a fixed-feed-in-tariff of 8 cents/kWh, supported by a sliding market premium.

While renewables keep setting records in terms of their shares of national electricity mixes – Germany has recently hit the 50% mark –, a full transformation to an entirely renewable-based energy system is not yet widely regarded to be a tangible reality. One of the main reasons is the prevailing mistrust of the ability of renewables to provide year-round supply. Many scientific studies have already shown that a complete conversion to renewables is not only critical for reasons of climate protection, but also that it is technologically feasible (in combination with storage technologies and digital control technology) at any hour of the year and at cost-effective prices. What is still missing, however, is a legal basis to enable the market penetration of reliable and adequate 100% renewable energy systems.

“The newly proposed Sector Coupling and Innovation Act for Renewable Energy is intended to become a major impetus to overcome the current challenges of the coronavirus recession and the climate crisis. More than ever, it is necessary to find solutions that both stimulate the economy and protect our climate,” said Hans-Josef Fell, who, as President of the EWG and author of the draft law EEG 2000, was responsible for drafting the new legislative initiative.

Stefan Gsänger, Secretary General of the World Wind Energy Association, emphasized: “Renewable energy ultimately can, must and will assume responsibility for system security. Today, wind and solar power have become the cheapest forms of energy. As a next step, the investments in the optimised integration of all renewable energy sources must be massively increased. The EWG’s new policy proposal shows how this can be achieved effectively and deserves wide attention.”

The law would create a market for the very large number of start-ups and established companies that are in the starting blocks with innovative system developments for storage, digital controls, green power generation and sector coupling, but do not yet have a viable market environment to generate large-scale privately financed investments.

“The advantages of low, decentralised and transparent energy production costs can now be shared with those of climate protection and security of supply, especially since integration comes also from the regional level in support of the transmission network. Further innovations and growth markets can certainly develop if technologies such as batteries, hydrogen, heat pumps and heat storage in combination with solar and wind energy are dynamically developed towards decentral system responsibility.”, states Thure Traber, Chief Research Officer at the EWG and author of the legislative proposal.

A legal examination of the proposal has shown the compatibility with EU regulations. A distinction is made between a fixed feed-in tariff per kWh fed into the grid for small plants and a floating market premium for larger plants that participate in electricity competition via direct marketing. Similar options for policy implementation are expected at international level. With political majorities in national parliaments, the proposal can help to realise effective climate protection and, after the end of the coronavirus pandemic, a rapid recovery of the economy together with the phasing-out of fossil and nuclear energy in favour of clean renewable energy sources.

The full policy paper is available here.

Media contact: Charlotte Hornung / +49 30 609898815 /

About Energy Watch Group  

Energy Watch Group (EWG) is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan global network of scientists and parliamentarians. EWG conducts research and publishes independent studies and analyses on global energy developments. The mission of the organisation is to provide energy policy with objective information. For more information, please visit
Contact:, +49 30 609898815

Conversion from coal and oil to natural gas increases greenhouse effect of energy consumption by around 40%

Berlin (September 17th, 2019) – The International Energy Agency (IEA) is repeatedly playing down the climate impact of natural gas, thus laying the foundation for national governments to continue to heavily subsidise fossil fuels. Against this background, the Energy Watch Group presented the latest scientific findings on the future suitability of natural gas in a new study released on Monday. The key finding debunks the widespread picture of natural gas as a climate-friendly bridge technology: The switch from coal-fired power generation and oil-fired heating to natural gas increases the greenhouse effect of energy supply by around 40% due to alarming methane emissions. Thus, contrary to what is widely communicated to the public, natural gas does not contribute to climate protection, but instead causes an additional acceleration of climate change.

The study of the independent Berlin Think-and-Do-Tank calculates for the first time the climate impact of a fossil-fossil substitution by natural gas based on the latest research on methane and carbon dioxide emissions of the entire supply chain. The climate impact was evaluated with regard to the 20-year horizon relevant for potential climate tipping points. The study comes to the conclusion that possible CO2savings from natural gas are far outweighed by its high methane emissions. A switch from coal and crude oil in the electricity, heat and transport sectors to natural gas even significantly exceeds the highly negative climate impact of coal and crude oil.

„The IEA, which many governments regard as a reference for their energy policy decisions, deceives us with outdated figures and problematic assumptions about the actual climate impact of natural gas – with devastating consequences for our climate and the economy.”, explained Dr. Thure Traber, co-author and leading scientist of the EWG. „The economic risks of natural gas are significant: If the climate targets are to be achieved on national and international levels, then it is simply impossible for investments in natural gas to pay for themselves. What will remain are stranded investments in the billions.”

“The study confirms that the production of highly climate-damaging natural gas will further exacerbate climate change,” added Hans-Josef Fell. The former member of the German Parliament and President of the Energy Watch Group, who was involved in the study as co-author, calls for a rethink in the current political debate about the future of the energy sector. “Existing and new subsidies for natural gas are incompatible with the Paris climate protection targets. Instead, we urgently need more investments in renewable energies, because only these have an immediate and lasting positive effect on the climate.”

What exactly politics has to do in order to establish a sustainable energy system is clear to the authors of the study: an immediate abolition of all subsidies for fossil fuels and a comprehensive introduction of emission-free, renewable technologies; the existing natural gas infrastructure can alternatively be used for climate-friendly biogas and green gases such as hydrogen from green electricity. Since a worldwide transition of the energy system to 100% renewable energies would save 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions, this measure must be at the centre of all climate protection efforts. The study points out that fossil energies have no place in the future energy system and calls upon politicians to correct the false image of natural gas as a climate-friendly bridge technology.

The study is freely available here.

Press Contact: Charlotte Hornung / +49 30 609898815 / hornung(a)


About the Energy Watch Group 

Energy Watch Group (EWG) is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan global network of scientists and parliamentarians. EWG conducts research and publishes independent studies and analyses on global energy developments. The mission of the organization is to provide energy policy with objective information.

Global Energy System Based on 100% Renewables

What leading experts say about our new study:


Prof. Mark Jacobson, Stanford University, California, USA

“The science is in that a transition to 100% clean, renewables for all energy is an achievable goal throughout the world. This new paper reaffirms this fact, plus it shows it is possible to avoid 1.5°C global warming by getting to zero net GHG emissions by 2050 without negative emission technologies, fossil fuels with carbon capture, or nuclear power, yet at an affordable cost.”

Prof. Martin Green, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

“This is an impressive body of work that will not only provide a benchmark for future studies but will also provide a guide for coordinated policy action that is needed to limit the future impact of the world’s past dependence on fossil fuels for its energy supply.”

Prof. Claudia Kemfert, Hertie School of Governance, German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), Berlin, Germany

“The study shows impressively that a secure and cost-efficient energy supply to achieve the Paris climate targets with 100% renewable energy is not only technically possible, but also economically profitable. What is particularly significant about this study is that it shows that neither nuclear or CCS technologies nor geoengineering are required to achieve the climate targets cost-effectively.”  

Prof. Eicke Weber, former Director of Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, Freiburg, Germany

 “This is truly a landmark-study. A detailed analysis that covers the whole globe with a one-hour time resolution demonstrates that a reliable global energy system based on 100% Renewable Energy is technically possible and financially advantageous. It is noteworthy that the study comes to the conclusion that the world will need for such a secure energy supply about 70 Terawatts of Solar Power (essentially Photovoltaics, PV) installed, and 8 Terawatts of wind – numbers, that will be important in planning the world’s trajectory in the coming years to avoid catastrophic climate changes – in line with the demands of the current, global FridaysforFuture movement of our schoolchildren.”

Jeremy Leggett, Green Entrepreneur & Director of Solarcentury, United Kingdom

“1.5˚C zero-GHG energy from power, heat, transport & desalination sectors is possible before 2050. This 100% RE system, modeled hourly, globally, for the 1st time, allots solar 69% of the mix at lower cost than current global supply. A historic report.”

Daniel Fürstenwerth, Renewable Energy Expert & Green Entrepreneur, Berlin, Germany

“The best and most relevant piece of work on the energy transition in the last 5 years. Setting a new standard on energy system modelling: IEA/Irena scenarios have today become irrelevant, due to lack of quality!”


The full study is available here
The full study in high resolution (ZIP file) is available here.

Download material (in different languages)

Key Findings: English, French, German, Mandarin, RussianSpanish

Executive Summary: English, French, German, Mandarin, Spanish

Presentation on the global results

Presentations on the regional results: Europe, Eurasia, MENA, Sub-Saharan Africa, SAARC, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, North America, South America

Supplementary data (Excel file)
Presentation of numerical results of the modeling broken down to regions and sectors.


About the Study
The simulation “Global Energy System based on 100% Renewable Energy”, co-funded by the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU) and the Stiftung Mercator, comprises a state-of-the-art modeling, developed by LUT University and computes a cost-optimal mix of technologies based on locally available renewable energy sources. It determines the most cost-effective energy transition pathway for global energy supply on an hourly resolution for an entire reference year and structured in 145 regions. The global energy transition scenario is carried out in 5-year time periods from 2015 until 2050. The results are aggregated into nine major regions of the world: Europe, Eurasia, MENA, Sub-Saharan Africa, SAARC, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, North America and South America.

About Energy Watch Group
Energy Watch Group (EWG) is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan global network of scientists and parliamentarians. EWG conducts research and publishes independent studies and analyses on global energy developments. The mission of the organization is to provide energy policy with objective information.

About LUT University
LUT University has pioneered as a science university combining technology and business since 1969. It has been recognised in international rankings as one of the world’s top universities. Clean energy and water, a circular economy and sustainable business are pivotal questions for humankind. LUT University applies its expertise in technology and business to seek solutions to these questions. LUT University strongly promotes entrepreneurship stemming from its scientific research. An example of this is the business accelerator Green Campus Open, which supports new spin-off companies that are based on LUT’s research. LUT’s international science community consists of 6500 students and experts.