An energy infrastructure that depends largely on renewables appears inevitable as easily mined fossil fuels will be exhausted. Given the potential for catastrophic climate change and the inherently negative environmental externalities of non-renewable forms of energy production, we must find ways to transition to renewables as soon as possible. Studies of this potential transition have pointed to the possibility of a swift shift from fossil fuels to renewables, using existing technologies, while providing sufficient long-term energy needs for all humanity.
Arguably no challenge is more serious for the world’s future than bringing about a rapid decarbonation of the energy infrastructure with the possibility of preventing the onset of catastrophic climate change. With a mathematical model we demonstrate that this transition is technically plausible using modest inputs of existing fossil fuel reserves in the creation of a global solar power infrastructure even with existing solar technologies such as wind turbines. In addition, this global power capacity can likewise provide energy consumption per person levels for all of humanity consistent with high human development requirements.