A new study from the University of Sussex says that historical precedent shows that huge shifts in energy sources can take place within a decade.
Professor Benjamin Sovacool, Director of the Sussex Energy Group at Sussex University, has published a paper that asserts that a switch to a new energy source can be made very quickly with the proper help from “strong government intervention.” The paper cites a number of historical examples, which Sovacool says are frequently overlooked.
These include the total elimination of coal energy in the Canadian provence of Ontario over a period of just 11 years, and a switch to nuclear power for a total of 40 percent of France’s electricity over a 12-year period.
Perhaps the most promising precedent is the switch from kerosene to LPG stoves for a full two-thirds of the population of Indonesia over a period of just three years. This case also serves as an example of a rapid consumer-level switch, rather than a switch to a different kind of power plant.
Other switches, such as the very gradual adoption of electricity or the even more gradual move from wood to coal, have happened much slower. But Sovacool is confident that the total elimination of all fossil fuel use will be helped along by climate change concerns.
The move does face opposition from energy companies, as well as a lack of cost-effective alternatives for developing countries. But dwindling resources and environmental concerns are also important factors that will influence a potentially rapid move away from all fossil fuel use.