A silent French film from 1903 is similar to the climate crisis, which is linked to energy and environmental crises. The three crises are intertwined and influence each other like the parties in an insoluble triangular drama.
To navigate a green transition and achieve climate targets by 2050, the world will need three times more electricity. However, generating enough electricity requires significant land use that damages ecosystems, exacerbating climate change.
A study conducted by NTNU and the Grenoble Institute of Technology found that hydropower is the most land-efficient renewable energy source globally, challenging the commonly held view that solar power is the most energy-dense source.
Using the current energy plan, the world’s electricity production in 2050 would require land as large as 1.5 times India or the entire EU, assuming climate neutrality. This is unsustainable as humans are already expanding across the planet. Burning forests for energy is not a sustainable solution as it damages the environment.
Bioenergy is the worst renewable energy source in terms of land efficiency, followed by onshore wind, offshore wind, wave power, solar power, and finally hydropower. Wind power resources found on land areas already in use for other purposes are limited and do not provide opportunities for restoring damaged environments.
Nuclear power is the clear winner in terms of spatial energy density, requiring 99.7% less land use than onshore wind power, and could supply the entire world with emission-free energy on an area half the size of Norway’s Viken county or Vermont in the US. A transition to nuclear power alone could save 99.75% of environmental encroachments in 2050.