James Hakner, writing for Phys.org: The worldwide reliance on burning fossil fuels to create energy could be phased out in a decade, according to an article published by a major energy think tank in the UK. Professor Benjamin Sovacool, Director of the Sussex Energy Group at the University of Sussex, believes that the next great energy revolution could take place in a fraction of the time of major changes in the past. But it would take a collaborative, interdisciplinary, multi-scalar effort to get there, he warns. And that effort must learn from the trials and tribulations from previous energy systems and technology transitions. In a paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Energy Research & Social Science, Professor Sovacool analyses energy transitions throughout history and argues that only looking towards the past can often paint an overly bleak and unnecessary picture. Moving from wood to coal in Europe, for example, took between 96 and 160 years, whereas electricity took 47 to 69 years to enter into mainstream use. But this time the future could be different, he says -- the scarcity of resources, the threat of climate change and vastly improved technological learning and innovation could greatly accelerate a global shift to a cleaner energy future.
There's no doubt that we will soon reach a point wherein solar and wind will be readily available and feasible to the vast majority but, the decade timeframe feels like a stretch. We must acknowledge the financial and political challenges that we face today. Private and government-backed companies have invested billions of dollars into plants that turn fossil fuels into electricity. Ditching these plants means losing a lot of capital and owing investors with plenty of explanations. There are several forces at play here.