How Renewable Energy Will Change Geopolitics

Jun 27, 2018 | 09:00 GMT

The Villanueva plant in Mexico is the size of 40 football fields, making it the largest solar plant in the Americas.

An aerial picture shows the Villanueva photovoltaic power plant operated by Italian company Enel Green Power in the desert near Villanueva, a town in the Coahuila state, Mexico, on April 20, 2018. The plant covers an area the size of 40 football fields, making it the largest solar plant in the Americas.



  • By 2040, renewable sources could account for as much as one-third of the world's energy needs, putting greater geopolitical focus on regions and further increasing the importance of technological and financial innovation to countries' global influence.
  • China stands to gain the most from the rise of renewable energy, though the United States and Germany will also reap significant benefits, and India could use solar power to increase its influence among developing countries.
  • Venezuela, the Persian Gulf states and Russia, on the other hand, stand to lose the most.
  • Because technology and intellectual property will be essential to renewables, the shift from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources will raise the risk of cyberwars and trade conflict between states.

It will take decades for the transition to renewable energy to play out, and it may never phase out fossil fuels completely. Natural gas, for instance, will be important even late in the century. But with each passing prediction cycle, forecasters are more optimistic about how much global energy will come from renewable sources and how quickly. The rate of consumption for renewable energy is currently growing three times faster than the overall demand for energy. A world in which renewable sources account for, say, one-third of the total energy consumed is now entirely plausible, even likely, within the next two or three decades. The shift is already underway, and it will be no less transformative than the transitions from wood to coal and from coal to oil before it....

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