The Nexus of World Electricity and Global Sustainable Development

The main part of mankind’s ecological footprint is the carbon footprint, a measure of the environmental impact of humanity’s energy release from fossil fuels. The use of fossil fuels will have to change in the forthcoming decades to a largely climate-neutral use of solar energy enabled by dramatic cost reductions for PV and wind energy systems. The impact of this trend on world society has been discussed in a previous paper. In connection with these important technical developments, the role of electricity, its transport and storage will alter in the coming decades, allowing the design and use of larger and larger electricity grids and a parallel use of hydrogen for both storage and energy transport. This will further change the energy landscape of the world. All these developments and their relationship to global sustainable development are elaborated in this cross-disciplinary paper by specifically analyzing whether the Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations are an effective road map for humanity to handle global climate change risks.

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