A new study on climate goals: – It needs a larger area than the European Union

A new study on climate goals: - It needs a larger area than the European Union

In a new study, researchers from NTNU and the Grenoble Institute of Technology looked at what future energy production might look like in less than 30 years.

In a study recently published in the prestigious journal Scientific Nature Reportsthe researchers showed that energy production in the future may require a lot of space – a lot of space.

– World electricity production for 2050, with the current energy plan, will require an area one and a half times larger than India or the same size as the entire European Union – assuming we become climate-neutral, says Jonas Christiansen-Noland, Dagbladet.

Noland: Jonas Christiansen Noland is an associate professor in NTNU’s Department of Electrical Power Engineering and designed and led the study now published in Nature. Image: NTNU
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The impossibility of solving the climate crisis

Nuland and his colleagues took the International Energy Agency (IEA) as their starting point zero emissions scenario to access their results.

Based on this, they concluded that the area required for energy extraction in the future will be six times more than what we have today.

In fact, this will consist of many power plants and power facilities spread all over the world, but to try to understand the size of this region, we can imagine that the entire European Union is one big power plant.

– Our research shows that if we are to follow the International Energy Agency (IEA) zero emissions scenarioThen Noland says that the world’s natural interventions will increase sixfold by 2050.

Video originally posted on dagbladet.no/dbtv.no on 31.01.2012 In the uninhabitable area around the Fukushima nuclear power plant, pets have taken over completely. Video: Reuters
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According to Nøland, the climate crisis cannot therefore be resolved, without exacerbating another.

– In other words, it is impossible to solve the climate crisis without a serious compromise with the natural one if the current energy policy is implemented, says the NTNU researcher.

So the scenario put forth by the study can seem rather bleak. However, in the study, Nuland and his fellow researchers also argue that solutions exist.

– In order to better solve the triple problem between climate, energy and the environment, the obvious answer is that we must continue to search for more energy-intensive solutions. Then we have to follow the data wherever it leads, and the new study provides an opportunity for that, says Noland.


In order to avoid massive intrusions into nature, we rely on resorting to the most “energy-intensive” energy production, that is, solutions that produce the most energy in the smallest possible area, Nøland believes.

In order to get an indication of the solutions that countries and energy producers should look for, Noland and colleagues provide an overview of the energy intensity of different forms of production.

– If you consider all energy sources, nuclear energy is the clear winner in terms of energy intensity. In an area the size of half the county of Viken, nuclear power could supply the whole world with zero-emissions energy beyond the fossil age, Noland says.

On the list by Nøland and his co-authors, nuclear power comes out very well. In the illustration above, you can see the difference in how much space the different types of energy production would take up if they were to supply 60,000 Norwegian households with electricity.

With the development of nuclear power, Nøland believes that one can not only limit future interference with nature, but also reverse what has been done.

– An energy transition based on nuclear energy alone will save 99.75 percent of natural interventions in 2050. We can even remove most of the natural footprint that we have already created today.

Popularity issues

Most people today do not consider nuclear energy as a renewable source of energy. This is largely because energy extraction from nuclear power plants produces waste that can be very harmful to the environment.

Accidents such as those at Chernobyl in 1986 and Fukushima in 2011 have also helped nuclear power be flagged as a potential safety risk.

– It’s true that nuclear power has faced popularity problems for a number of years, says Nøland.

However, Nøland believes this is likely to change in the future.

Today, nuclear energy is outside the definition of renewable energy, but it is likely to be considered renewable in the long term. Uranium – fuel for nuclear energy – will be obtained in the future from the sea, where uranium is replenished naturally. In addition, used uranium can be recycled with the new technology. The researcher says that nuclear energy will then qualify as a renewable energy source.

Declaration of bankruptcy

Here in Norway, proposals to develop nuclear energy have not usually been popular, but as the energy crisis has left its mark on the Norwegian population, things may indicate that attitudes may change.

In March, Conservative Party chairwoman and former prime minister Erna Solberg stated that proposing to create nuclear power in Norway was a bad idea, according to NTB.

– I am not against nuclear energy in principle, I think this is one of the answers in many countries around the world. But Solberg said it would be a bankruptcy declaration in Norway.

However, a few days later, her party voted that nuclear energy in Norway should be investigated, and that it believed Norway should have an “active role in the international research and development of new nuclear energy technology”.

There have also been incidents in the Green Party (MDG) that may indicate a possible change of heart regarding Norwegian nuclear power.

At the national meeting of the MDGs in May, the party again voted “no” to support an investigation into nuclear power in Norway, but this was, however, after the MDG youth party called for an investigation into the construction of nuclear power plants. in Norway.

– I am convinced that today’s resolution clearly shows that the Millennium Development Goals believe that the world needs more nuclear energy, and that Norway should take an active part in this, including through financing. Tobias Stockland, spokesperson for Grønn Ungdom stated, according to Millennium Development Goals websites.

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Hanisi Anenih

Hanisi Anenih

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