Episode #004 - Christian Breyer
Episode #004 with Torsten Brammer & Christian Breyer:
Our guest in episode #004 of The Solar Journey is Christian Breyer. Christian is a professor of solar economy at the renowned finlandian LUT University. Prior to engaging in world-changing research, and publishing more than 250 scientific papers and 20 books and book chapters, Christian worked at Q-Cells in various roles in R&D and the market development department.
Christian is a co-founder of Energy Watch Group which regularly publishes cutting edge research about the energy future of our society. As part of his roles, he co-authors the “Global Energy System Based on 100% Renewable Energy” report. In this extensive report, it is clearly stated that a transition to 100% renewable energy is feasible with current technologies and most likely we, as a society, will even save money if we do it!
If you want to connect with Christian Breyer you can find him on LinkedIn.
Interesting points covered in this episode for those of us on our own Solar Journey):
Hear an innovative approach to shift the corporate culture of established utility companies.
How did Christian make a move from a tax advisor to physicist and then professor of the solar economy?
What opportunities lead Christian to Finland, of all places, considering Finland doesn’t have a lot of sun?
Hear some insights into the manmade nature of global warming.
Climate change is more dangerous than COVID-19: Why does humanity struggle with recognizing its threat?
What are the required resources to compute his hallmark 100% renewable energy model with 50M variables and 50M constraints in a stable way?
Hear a discussion of the three key scenarios on how to get to a 100% sustainable energy system.
Learn the number of installed solar Gigawatts required to run a 100% sustainable global economy.
How reliable is the IEA Global Energy Outlook?
What is the outline of a pathway to a sustainable aviation industry?
Who has to make the call to get all of us on the path towards a sustainable future and ensure our survival?
[00:00:03.430] - Torsten
OK. So welcome, everybody, to a new episode of The Solar Journey. Today we have Christian Breyer as our guest, welcome Christian.
[00:00:16.930] - Christian
It's a pleasure to discuss with you, Torsten.
[00:00:20.380] - Torsten
So let me just briefly introduce Christian. So he's currently a professor of solar economy in Finland. He's with the Lappeenranta-Lahdi University of Technology, in short, LUT. And he focuses on research and teaching solar economy. Energy scenarios and their market mechanisms. And before that, he was a managing director and scientific director of the ReinerLemoine Institut in Germany in Berlin. And this institute does research on how mankind can get to 100 percent renewables. And how we can manage the energy transition. He holds a Ph.D. on economics of hybrid photovoltaic power plants.
[00:01:10.850] - Torsten
He also worked in the solar industry, as in the R&D and Market Development Department of Q-Cells a former and still world market leader in solar cell manufacturing and solar plant engineering. This is actually where we met, Christian. When was that? Few years ago, 2000?
[00:01:30.410] - Christian
Well, roughly 10 years ago from now.
[00:01:34.790] - Torsten
And he's on top of that. A co-founder of the DESERTEC Foundation engaged in the photovoltaic power systems program of the International Energy Agency.
[00:01:46.790] - Torsten
And the chairman of, for renewable energy of the energy watch group. And he has published more than 250 scientific papers and about 20 books or book chapters, major reports and also coal editor and contributor. So, again, a warm welcome Christian. I personally, I would call you the Oracle for the future of renewables in Europe. I don't know about the world, but possibly also that.
[00:02:22.950] - Torsten
I don't know anyone who's got that. Focus on the subject, of the solar economy. Who in the world would you regard as working on your eye level? And who would you admire for that kind of research you also do? Who do you look up to in your area?
[00:02:44.910] - Christian
To be honest, as a researcher, you always work or you overstand on the shoulders of the Giants before you. And as a researcher then you in the very end, you add a small piece of insight to what had been all available. But maybe answering your question in more detail, I would take a kind of a broader perspective cause nowadays, it's easy to be for a sustainable world. However, where did this really... the real triumph started?
[00:03:21.300] - Christian
It had been a complete, different world. Just think back to the 1960s when Rachel Carson wrote a book called The Silent Spring, where finally all the birds died due to chemicals all around, OK. Nowadays, we, accelerate the process with dying insects and due to that huge loss of birds. But that was a kind of initial step to get huge nongovernmental organizations like Greenpeace and others in the consequence founded.
[00:03:54.480] - Christian
So these are the real giants or then in the 70s. Was the Club of Rome the limits to growth? So where we really understood for the first time, we cannot go for an ever lasting exponential growth. And maybe that's then a follow up question. What does it mean for renewables? But now, coming closer to solar economy, the first to really catch down what solar economy means was Hermann Scheer, finally, a politician with background in social sciences.
[00:04:24.210] - Christian
He wrote a book. Now, more than 20 years ago, and in the English version, the title of the book is Solar Economy. And it was really catched down what it really means. But to be honest, the real triumph from the scientific point of view had been the person practically no one knows it. Bent Sörensen. He is from Denmark and he published in the mid 70s, the first one hundred percent renewable energy research article in a full analytical way, though.
[00:04:57.170] - Christian
And even in the 90s, 1990s. Such analysis for the entire growth. And it took more than fifteen years that a second researcher re-did the job.
[00:05:10.950] - Christian
So he was obviously half a generation or even more than that ahead of the rest of the planet. Another real giant, what we nowadays do is just to do it better. What already exists!
[00:05:24.510] - Torsten
Yeah. Interesting. Interesting. So Solar Economy, Hermann Scheer you think. Chiseled that name. He defined the time of the Department of Research or activity as the first person.
[00:05:42.130] - Christian
Yeah to be honest, it's not only research, in the social sciences or in psychology. We know that in the very end, you have only a few persons defining a new field and they have maybe a visionary power with new ideas. And if these ideas are really good, then others maybe will understand that and then follow them and then spread the idea to society. And without such visionary power, there are no followers. And obviously, Hermann Scheer had been one of the very first really thinking on that.
[00:06:21.720] - Christian
I would not say that everything is 100 percent perfect. What he ever said. I'm far from that. But the core of everything is great. But of course, this is just the visionary power to get started. At the end, of course, it has to be elaborated. It has to be discussed in the societal discourse that really a broad society with various stakeholders can check it from their individual perspective so that finally it's a kind of a societal commonsense to get it executed, a kind of a transition in society.
[00:06:53.250] - Torsten
And of course, we should not forget to mention such giants like Hans Joseph Fell, who finally together with Hermann Scheer in Germany 20 years ago, by the way, roughly 20 years ago, now and introduced the feed-in tariff law in Germany, which was a copy paste law for more than 100 countries, and spreading renewables around the planet on a very clever, innovative idea and innovative idea is we have a simple law in the beginning, a simple law.
[00:07:23.220] - Christian
Then it was destroyed later on by opponents. But anyway, a simple law that everyone can contribute to a revolution to get a sustainable energy system. And I think this is a great invention from a political field, from a societal point of view, and finally also from a legal point of view, because it enables everyone to be part of the energy revolution, not only the usual suspects like large utility companies or others.
[00:07:51.240] - Torsten
Excellent let me come. Thanks a lot for that. Let me come back to you, Professorship. So that is co-founded by a company, it's called Fortum, and they also engaged in the renewable energy business. So how do you interact with that, with that company? How do you do make sure that your science is not influenced by their interests?
[00:08:22.940] - Christian
Yeah, it was just a strategic outcome of a restructuring process in Fortum. Fortum is the largest power utility in Finland that said, okay, it will go towards fossil free generation. Renewables will play a huge role. They called it also solar economy. But from a physical point of view, so meaning all renewables, wind, solar, hydropower value, bio-energy, even geothermal energy. But of course, we know it's not really physically from the sun, but all others are finally physically from the sun.
[00:09:03.260] - Christian
And then I thought, okay, what they really need is young engineers training the company. They should have really new, different ideas in their mindsets and maybe better during their studies. They have someone planting them, really...
[00:09:19.270] - Christian
How do you say? Thinking out of the box ideas! Or confronting them early in their studies so that they have more, how to say. Revolutionary people within their organization, through, growing also to say with the newly hired people that was one of their key ideas. It was just a kind of a starting point. So I started here six years ago. It was a contribution for the first four years. So this is already part of the past. But of course, we have a good collaboration and maybe the best what can be named for that is it's ETIPV.
[00:09:58.070] - Christian
This is the European Technology and Innovation Platform for PV where key European technology, economics and legal stakeholders for photovoltaics, from industry, from research build a kind of a network for dissemination and key topics, also for advising European Commission and one of my closest co-workers there is from Fortum. He is there the responsible solar manager. So also on that basis, a really, really good, productive collaboration.
[00:10:37.970] - Torsten
So do I understand this correctly? So basically, Fortum is like a conventionally used to be a conventional utility, and they now decided a few years ago to move to accept, tolerate, incorporate renewable energies. And they use the sponsorship of your professorship and then those new students, those graduates to transform the internal culture, let's say mindset is that correct?
[00:11:06.950] - Christian
Yes. Maybe let's make it a bit broader for you. Generally, larger European utilities, these are typically companies founded many decades ago in the past or founded two mergers, depending on what countries were looking for. But all of them are large institutions, large companies, several thousands, ten thousands of employees. And if a kind of a corporate DNA of such large companies has to be changed, it's a process of rather 20 then only 10 years.
[00:11:36.560] - Christian
But we have no more and more of the large utilities in Europe. They really realized coal face is out. Even even gas will phase out, nuclear phases out. And whenever a large utility. And of course, the more so we'd be we know them in Italy and Spain and Germany, Netherlands, Sweden. They all come to the conclusion. Okay, if you have once mentally accepted that the previous nuclear fossil business is just facing out, then they're mentally open minded to what are now the new challenges?
[00:12:11.000] - Christian
What are the new opportunities? And then suddenly they realize, OK, the world, and then they'll be electrified. You need electrification for heating. We need electrification for the transport sector. We need electrification for industry. We need electrification for steel. Why are hydrogen and other options? And then suddenly they realized their market may grow by a factor of four or five, even in Europe. And then suddenly they get really clever new creative ideas.
However, I realized that only with companies when they really stopped those business. So the old stranded assets in fossil and nuclear fuels that have to be maybe spin off and companies which finally just their ramp down. So it still may take 10, 20 years as, for example, coal or nuclear accident in Germany with coal exit still close to 20 years from now. But in the very end, if this is already legally done, then they're open minded for new opportunities.
And I think that is a process, all these companies. Go through earlier or later, at least, if they want us to watch as a company.
[00:13:17.650] - Torsten
They better do. But let's step a few years. You used to work as a tax adviser. You've got a some sort of a degree. In business, and then you switch somehow to signs and then to solar. How did it all happen and why did it happen?
[00:13:36.500] - Christian
Yeah, I started a bit earlier with my, to say, professional career versus a tax advisor assistant in my early years. And it was okay. It was nice. You can you can have to say or earn your living expenditures. But in the end, I missed a bit. The what will be the impact finally what I would do daily. And then I decided, okay, let's try something technical. And at that time I read the first books Hermann Scheer.
[00:14:09.740] - Christian
OK. And then I thought, OK, why not? If it's a growing interesting market. So still fully having the mindset of with a business background, I thought, okay, let's go for that. And I got a really great to say advice from a teacher. Christian, you typically start very fundamentality with all the topics, or maybe you do. You should do the same with energy. And then the advice was maybe you should start studying physics.
[00:14:36.990] - Christian
So what I finally did?
[00:14:38.700] - Torsten
That's a big jump, right, from a tax advisor assistant to start study science, right?
[00:14:43.350] - Christian
Yeah. At the very end, I was young at the time. So if you are young and if you spend a few years in the field, which you may find out three, four or five years later, it was not the best decision in your life before. But if you did already two degrees in your first professional career, then the way back is not so complicated if you're still young. So I said, okay, if you are young, you can go for some risk taking.
[00:15:10.440] - Christian
If if it works, it's fine. If not, you know, your fallback options or it's okay. But I guess that was what's really great to really try to understand the nature of energy. This is finally all about and that's, of course, studying physics is great. But what's going to happen at University Technical University? I immediately realized that I had been in many courses about engineering energy. So in the end, it was then also a degree as energy systems engineer because it has to be applied.
[00:15:43.860] - Christian
So if you are a physicist, you have to be very careful that it has to do with reality. So you get Lyford, theoretical theories. Being an engineer also, that helps, of course, much more to look for the real solutions that is needed.
[00:15:58.990] - Torsten
So but basically you right from the start, you had the vision. You wanted to work in the solar economy. Right? Really, the economy could part of it, rather. So the science engineering part was just a stepping stone to understand the details of the technology. Let's put it this way. And then you already had a long term view to work in that lookbook. More on the economical part of it.
[00:16:21.300] - Christian
I would say it was more kind of a journey to find out where are the fields you want to be.
[00:16:26.920] - Torsten
So a journey, I like that yeah.
[00:16:29.550] - Christian
So you're still in your how to say late 20s. You can walk a bit around and try and what you want to do. And this year I had a study in physics then. It's not so surprising if you think on the renewables that that photovoltaics might be something you want to test, cause to be really good in photovoltaics, you should learn or know quite a lot about solid matters. Quantum physics may even help there.
[00:16:58.560] - Christian
A lot of electrical engineering helps for PV. So I would say that kind of a natural step. But when I did this, I still with business and background, I thought organic photovoltaics.
[00:17:10.920] - Christian
That's the field I want to go for, starting with emerging idea. Maybe then why are startups to commercialization? But then I noticed rather fast. This is a long way for this technology and maybe a more larger established field may bring me further. So then I spend a year concentrating solar thermal power plants, which learned me then the power of crystalline photovoltaics, which was quite interesting. This was not intended, not expected by myself, but I came across the growth rates and learning rates of of finally crystalline photovoltaics.
[00:17:52.980] - Christian
And this brings down already ten, fifteen years ago, but still today brings down the cost extremely fast. And then again, a bit by accident, I moved again from concentrating solar thermal power to finally crystalline photovoltaics in joining Q-cells still responsible. Therefore, what was called technology is creating at that time. So what was not really already established and the companies do organic photovoltaics and other topics, but that taught me more and more of what is really the power of photovoltaics.
[00:18:31.330] - Christian
And finally, crystalline silicon photovoltaics, which is still today by, I don't know, 97 percent the world market dominating technology. And really wants to stay powerful. But, of course, in the end, it really helps to look left and right hand side a bit for us and a bit backwards, maybe understanding more as a journey. Maybe that also brought me in the back as a researcher, because if you are still on the kind of or feel yourself on the journey, then you have to look a bit around what is left, what is right.
[00:19:07.660] - Christian
What brings you further? What is a good solution in the end? That photovoltaic is so relevant and so dominant is by accident. It's finally a very low cost technology. And the sun shines everywhere. And that makes it super attractive for an energy transition. It would be another technology. And then maybe we would talk to another technology that said solar photovoltaic has this outstanding bright future. Of course, it's relevant to understand it better and go deeper and deeper and really to see how to finally get it to say utilized for mankind, for all of us.
[00:19:46.040] - Torsten
So how did you end up in Finland? I mean, you just mentioned to the Sunshines forever. Finland is not known for lots of sunlight. So why is it does Finland have a professorship on solar? Why is it not? Why couldn't you go to Spain, Italy, Australia, where there's a lot more resource? Which is sunlight in this case.
[00:20:10.060] - Christian
What lives? What life teaches us is you have to take the opportunities which are available.
[00:20:16.160] - Torsten
So there are no other options.
[00:20:17.800] - Christian
Or your dreams and wishes when it's possible to fulfill it. Finally, there was this.
[00:20:24.120] - Christian
This is open position to go for a solar economy research. Yes. And what's the question? Okay, let's do it now. And here in Finland. So you follow a dream which may never come true. Then follow the dreams which are available. So I never regretted this decision.
[00:20:44.740] - Torsten
So are there any other professorships on solar economy somewhere on this planet, or is that...
[00:20:51.110] - Christian
I'm not sure whether they have this name. But of course, there are several colleagues doing very similar topics.
[00:20:56.380] - Torsten
[00:20:56.540] - Christian
So typically they have done professorships in thermodynamics, professorships in physics, of course, and engineering, doing similar topics. But in the end, what how to say with my peers, I would say what we have in common is try to find pathways from a holistic approach for an entire energy system, how to get from the today's let's really call it direct energy system to a fully sustainable energy system.
[00:21:26.260] - Christian
So first of all, how it looks like. How would you get there and what are the differences for different constraints, boundary conditions, saying a natural scientists are finally in all different parts in the world, that different resources more wind, more summer, more hydropower, more stable climate, really harsh climates. What are finally the solutions? But in the end, it's always build up from the same components. So if you have several dozens of components. You can always build up a sustainable energy system that is not complicated.
[00:21:58.970] - Torsten
So the key motivation for solar economy to establish a solar economy is protecting the environment or protecting the resources that mankind in many. Living creatures, including plants, need to keep growing. Keep living on this planet as they do today.
[00:22:20.680] - Torsten
Very simple question. How much? Are you convinced that climate change is manmade? That it's a threat and they're not just changing things and we can cope with it in some way. We just figure it out. So why do we need to fight climate change?
[00:22:41.000] - Christian
In the end, it's a simple matter of fact that it's manmade. And this is known since decades. We know it now by ninety nine point nine percent. OK. But there are scientific publications since 10, 20 years.
[00:22:56.030] - Christian
They say us with very, very high level of insights that this is manmade. But you can go back. There are books German families had in their shelves, bookshelves in the 1960s. The book is called Translated to English Our Blue Planet. And there is a chapter in the middle of the book written from a former rocket scientist who moved with Denna from Brown from Germany after the Second World War to the US. And the book was written in the early 60s, and it's very simply explained in that book.
[00:23:32.270] - Christian
There is a rather increasing share of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. It's having these early measurements from Monoloa on Hawai. He simply wrote that this is due to burning fossil fuels. And as we know from a greenhouse gas, it will heat up the planet written in the mid 60s.
[00:23:51.430] - Torsten
Mid 60s. This is 60 years ago, 60 years old.
[00:23:54.860] - Christian
What we learned from that time is we understand it with more details. But there is no further fundamental insight. How can we burn?
[00:24:03.390] - Torsten
How can still so many politicians, big guy, small guys, stand up and say it's it's not manmade. And it doesn't happen. And let's just keep going.
[00:24:19.660] - Christian
But I understand that there are two things which which are unlimited in the road. It's the stupidness of people and the universe. And for the latter, he's not really sure. Maybe that is one explanation. But the second explanation is we have an enormous Western interests.
[00:24:42.240] - Christian
So there are a huge capital stocks invested in non sustainable infrastructure, technology, fossil business, and as all organizations or organisms want to survive. Also, companies and organizations want to survive. And they simply fight against the survival mode of mankind, of our civilization for short term profits. So this is the secondaries. And then if you are a large, powerful organization, then you spend huge amounts of money to secure your next quarter's profits.
[00:25:17.930] - Christian
And whether it destroys the existence of others maybe not relevant in this more short term optimization. And this is also known since decades. It's similar to tobacco and to other industries. They destroy our lives. And in the end, we people have to decide with our elected or to whatever reasons and what regimes brought into force. Politicians that our suicide mode ends. So we have it in our own hands that it's at least in democracies.
[00:25:52.100] - Christian
We go to elections and we decide on our own who will lead us and who not. It's very gentle and it's not from everyone or typically from politicians, whether they fight for fighting climate change or whether they're not so much interested in the topic. And that's our own decision, whom we vote.
[00:26:12.500] - Torsten
So fast-Forward, 20 years. Who's going to win? Is there. Will there be something like a winner?
[00:26:20.800] - Christian
Yeah, maybe it will be a renewable energy system because what we know from from humans in the end and of course, that we have to accept from ourselves. We are Africans of an animal, and that means in our inner brain.
[00:26:34.580] - Christian
We are it's it's very clear we still act in this mode. And in our current COVID- 19 crisis, we can experience that very well. Again, if we look into the eyes of the lion, we will survive. And that means if there is a virus around, which can immediately bring our health system into collapse so that many, many people are on the major threat and finally will die, then we are able to enormous drastic measures globally immediately in all countries.
[00:27:10.430] - Torsten
So we are really looking into the eye of the tiger. Oh, when are we looking? Some say for the last 20 years... For the renewables. I mean, no, no, no.
[00:27:22.880] - Christian
For the renewables, it's different because the point is to look into the eyes of the lion means we need a immediate threat in front of us. So it has to be our threat, really threat now. And we had it 10 years ago with the financial crisis where the global financial system had been maybe only one weekend close to a global financial meltdown. And then global cooperation among countries within one weekend was not a big deal. As humans were able to, that Corona crisis is very similar.
[00:27:55.850] - Christian
The problem with climate change is this is unfortunately the other part of our human nature. What is not immediate threat in front of us? We delay to the next day. So then we are like a frog in the boiling water. We prefer to get boiled. And this, unfortunately, is the problem with climate change. Due to that, we don't go for immediate actions because many, many, many people more will die due to climate change. If we continue the present pathways, then in theory could have been ever died with COVID 19.
[00:28:30.080] - Christian
The only problem is with climate change. This is so, so a complex topic. It takes many years. It's not what. Something what happens within a few weeks or months or maybe one, two years. It's something which requires the care of one or two generations to really take care of. And as humans, we're not really made for that. Luckily, the young generation is different. So were Friday's for future. The kids finally juveniles, the very young adults went on the streets demonstrating that they don't want to lose their future.
[00:29:06.650] - Christian
And luckily for this generation, it's the threat immediate in front of them cause they lose their future right now. So they fight for the change. And I'm very sure as soon as it's allowed again to be in larger crowds on the streets, Fridays for future will be back because currently the existence is burned. And this is the best how to say pain in the ass of the decision makers to get the system changed, because what we already know from research, a fully sustainable energy system is simply the least cost option.
[00:29:36.830] - Christian
So to continue our currently wrecked system based on nuclear and fossils simply cost as much more. So that is a very inconvenient truth for the government decision makers because the system has to be switched and it will cost less as a consequence.
[00:29:53.190] - Torsten
So send your stuff there. We'll come back to that later, I think. So you do research. So you look at the solar economy. You model the new energy environment. You model that energy transition. How do you do that?
[00:30:14.430] - Christian
There are two ways of answering, the first way of answering is, of course, we look for a sustainable energy transition. So this is what we what we do and how to get there. The first part of the answer would be tears, pain and sweat.
[00:30:29.550] - Christian
So this is really very hard work. But to be more positive in the end, I would say it's passion. Let's call it love and let's call it endurance. It goes what with with with my team members, what we do. So it's a team of 15 to 20, really highly committed and passionate to the researchers and my team, but also with peers and other research teams around the world. What we all have in common to really find low cost pathways to fully sustainable energy systems.
[00:31:04.510] - Christian
And in the end, how it's technically done is you have to understand technologies. You have to know there are technical limitations. They're resource limitations. You have to know the cost. And all of these parameters can develop over time. Put everything together in what we call a models or a computer model. Then you need acceptable computational power. And then what I meant with tears, pain, sweat and passion to get a good outcome of all these parameters in good models with acceptable computational limitations, but also power.
[00:31:46.020] - Christian
And in the end, what it delivers. So this is the technical part. But in the end, it delivers a simple storyline. The storyline is where we start today, where we have to go to. And what are the measures from a technical economic point of view to be there. But of course, it requires enormous societal conviction and common sense to go for the decision making to go for the execution. Because in the end, the today system has to be what we call renewed.
So in industry, it's called restructuring. Maybe that's the more realistic word that has occurred. It has to be restructured. What we have and go for the new decisions. And it's not always that easy. So it takes in best cases, let's say, 20 years round about, really take it serious to have a fully sustainable energy system.
[00:32:32.880] - Torsten
So your input is a lot of research. You study the technologies. You have round 15 people and you have a computer. Do you need some super special computer? How complex is that? Is the model or is it? You can run it on your laptop. What sort of how complex is such kind of model?
[00:32:53.260] - Christian
Laptops? Laptop is not anymore convenient location. Still writing papers, structuring data for sending out e-mails? Finally, it's calculated, but still on simple computer servers. I would say so. So we have six servers. The standard server has 50 CPUs and a few hundred gigabytes of memory. So it's of course more than the standard laptop computer. But in the end, we have. 500, maybe 500, 600, CPUs altogether, two terabytes of memory, of course, it's large.
[00:33:31.990] - Christian
But of these kinds of systems, we run 2015 job servers always in parallel. So it's still modular. I would say with a supercomputer, we could do more. So, of course, we have limitations. We have very complex systems. So a standard system, it's what. What. But typically students learn in grade nine, 10. You have a linear equation. Systems are there. You you're learning with three, four equations. You have three, four variables.
[00:34:02.010] - Christian
And then you get solutions for the three, four variables that in principle we do linear optimization. The only difference is we have 50 million variables and 50 million constraints and dozens of millions of equations. But in the end, it's the linear equation system, what we try to solve. And, of course, in a stable way.
[00:34:22.600] - Torsten
And then how long would those 50 times X CPUs was run to get you a new model, is it like you have to wait a month or how fast do they churn out a new model?
[00:34:37.650] - Christian
Finally, we try to decouple the complexity. So it's always the question what needs to be fully coupled in one single simulation run, what can be decoupled without losing relevant information. So this is maybe then more the special techniques you learn on the way to be fast because you have almost a limitation of what is your maximum computational limits and what available time you have to go for simulation runs for very complex simulation studies. It can take two months to get step by step through.
[00:35:09.720] - Torsten
[00:35:10.470] - Christian
And then, of course, you should have not done a major error, because if you have one hundred technologies, we have 100, 120 technologies and our model is only one. Technology has one major parameter wrong. Your entire results can be wrong. So just take solar photovoltaics.
[00:35:29.550] - Christian
We we spend a huge effort that we have the right numbers for for photovoltaic, for solar energy. What are the really the cost. Now take the models which are what are used for the IPCC reports. They're used for so-called integrated assessment models. And when you compare the costs, what is projection on the reality from today's understanding to what they use in these integrated assessment models? What they're finally used for the IPCC then by 2050, there is a difference of effects for four to five.
[00:36:02.440] - Christian
So that means one single technology. They have been effective for five. Wrong. But the consequences. What are the energy system analyze as a result of these integrated assessment models? Finally, all the major conclusions are massively distorted to be polite. More in plain language, I would say their major conclusions are simply wrong. And the reason is one component is fully distorted. So due to that, it's a really very, I would say, responsible job to really take care that all the relevant technologies you take into account in such a model are really describing what we could say is a realistic description, first of all of reality.
[00:36:47.550] - Christian
But then also a projection into the future. So this requires a lot of hard work and finally also experience to really know the pitfalls around it.
[00:36:58.020] - Torsten
So you must have a lot of I.T. engineer specialists, I.T. engineers are to set up those models and I guess research students who analyze those technologies and give those parameters to the models right?
[00:37:13.750] - Christian
And it's a mix of of mindsets and people. So if you have really tough engineers, electrical engineers, physicists, they're all used to go for programming. So and then the end, of course, what is our key requirement that people have a technical background to really understand technologies? Most engineers, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, process engineers. So these are the most backgrounds I have in my team. But they're also people with background in geology and in mining.
[00:37:45.450] - Christian
And then they specialize on geothermal energy, for example, or an underground energy storage. So this is then a question of specialization, of course. There are chemists or physicists. So if you have such people in the team, it's great. However, it would be also quite interesting to have more people with industrial engineering because then they have more of economics on the forefront. It really depends in the end. Diversity is relevant. So to have people from different countries with different backgrounds, different cultures, different studies, to get really different ideas integrated, because if you have to cover so many technologies and with BBB do global local studies, the country studies, which just recently published it for Bangladesh, for Western Africa, then it's better to have a team member who is really from that region.
[00:38:42.360] - Christian
And if you talk on your thermal energy, it's better to have an geologists in your team. And that, of course, helps to get things a bit better done.
[00:38:53.610] - Torsten
So you've got this model and you set up these models for single countries or continents or the whole world. So what's the regional scope of your models?
[00:39:04.700] - Christian
I always say it's again, maybe my business background. It's like a SAP software. So you have a general framing software, but then you decide to what specific application you want to apply it. And this is exactly what's it about. So it can describe energy transition and you can decide whether you want to go for a country, for a continent, for the planet or maybe sublevel of a country. So we just. Right now, we're very close to have a report out where we study from a major country on the planet.
[00:39:40.740] - Christian
How to get the capital run on a sustainable energy basis. And we talk on capital with several tens of millions of inhabitants. So in that city, it's simply not possible. And then you have to find a way how the surrounding states in that larger country can support the capital. So and this is we all do with the same model. You can apply for that. And then finally, it's what is the data? What are the assumptions you need to gather data.
[00:40:10.550] - Christian
You have demand data. So our energy demand is there. And then you finally zoom in, zoom out whatever you want to study. So, honestly, if we would get a nice project from Elon Musk, we would also do such study for having sustainable energy supply on the moon or on the Mars for our model. It would be possible that looking at the government that currently we limited to our planet and and really zoom down on subnational level.
[00:40:37.270] - Christian
So when we do a country study, we have countries typically in five seven nine regions. So we model Finland in seven regions, Iran in nine regions. Currently we model Indonesia in eight regions. And then we are, let's say, on the state level, at the subnational level. But we also have papers on a global level. But it is always done with the same model. And finally, what data is applied?
[00:41:03.630] - Torsten
So I'm gonna call you on [unintelligible] just after this chat. Another big night. So you just published a new report together with Solar Power Europe. So when you looked at Europe, the energy transition in Europe.
[00:41:20.070] - Torsten
And the key outcome is how we can get to 100 renewables in Europe by 2050. So what's the, what are the key findings, how much is the cost? What do you want to share with our listeners on that record? Why should they look at it?
[00:41:38.250] - Christian
Maybe to make a charts of first of all, everyone can download the report. So it's open access. That's an example for just a facilitating societal discourse. But the message is one of the percent renewables in 2050 cost less than to have a slowed down energy transition, where we have still greenhouse gas emissions in 2050, where we have a higher nuclear share. This simply cost more money. So it kind of at least cost option to have the job done as it's announced by a commissioner from the line to have the European green deal.
[00:42:13.580] - Christian
So finally, this is the least cost option for Europe. However, maybe the more challenging question is, what does it mean if it will be faster? And we have finally in the report three scenarios. What we call the moderate scenarios is 100 percent renewables by 2050. But we have a leadership scenario that also tells us one hundred percent renewables by 2040, which is 20 years from now, would be possible. It will be, well, affordable and it would not cost much more.
[00:42:41.420] - Christian
And this is very close to what Friday's for future finally claims that in the end, within 10 years time from now, we have eaten up the carbon budget. If you can even say it in that cynical way to still remain in the one point five degree Celsius world. So Friday's for future finally claims within 10 to 15 years, a full transition to a sustainable energy system should be done, at least for 20 years, period. We have shown it can be done and it's, well, affordable in particular for rich region like Europe.
[00:43:15.770] - Christian
And what we learned from our global study is if you can do it in Europe, you can do it everywhere on the planet, because in practically all the regions in the world, it will be easier, faster and lower and cost than in Europe. And the simple reason is Europe is in the farther north where solar energy is good. But in the rest of the world, it's typically better. So it's lowering costs there. But Europe has excellent access also to wind energy.
[00:43:40.490] - Christian
So finally, the combination of solar and wind, this is also the key outcome of the study. We can go for the transition and maybe we are the first in this nature study that the lion share. Also in Europe, in the end, we will be solar energy, solar photovoltaic and the simple reason it's low in costs.
[00:43:58.470] - Torsten
So even though the total energy transition, you said, is about the least cost. What do you mean by that? Even if you would stick to the conventional energy systems, it would be more costly. So if we would stick to nuclear and coal, this would be more costly. This is what she's mean.
[00:44:18.520] - Christian
Yeah, it's super simple. So a new nuclear power plant. If you do everything perfectly, it cost you one hundred to one hundred twenty euros per megawatt hour. So this is the electricity generation cost of a newly built nuclear power plant. The World Records, published last week was in Abu Dhabi for thirteen point five US dollars per megawatt hour. So twelve euros per megawatt hour. Now, let's say in Europe it may cost a factor of two. So then it cost maybe if everything is more challenging in Europe than it would cost twenty five euros per megawatt hour in Europe. Electricity from solar photovoltaic for the same conditions as they got this large photovoltaic power plant in Abu Dhabi. And this is only a quarter, even less than a quarter of a new nuclear power plant. And then it's the question, what is the cost to have a one hundred percent renewable energy system stable in all hours of a year? And then you end up with numbers not more than 50 euros a megawatt hour.
[00:45:24.460] - Christian
So to have a fully sustainable energy system for all hours of a year cost you half or less than half of a new nuclear power plant, which is anything else then stable for the electricity demand because it can only provide a base generation electricity outcome. But during daytime, we need twice the electricity than during nighttime. So we have a kind of a variable load or demand over the day. So we need a mix of different opportunities. And in the end, it's a renewable system and solar system is simply lower in cost.
[00:45:57.460] - Christian
And you can do the same simple equations with fossil energy. Coal and gas is simply expensive. So a new gas fired power blend cost you 50, 60 euros a megawatt hour. All cost included, but still CO2 cost zero. But we know the CO2 price for one point five to two Celsius degree Celsius world is one hundred eighty two hundred euros per tonne CO2. And then a gas fired power blend cost you 70, 80, maybe 90 euros per megawatt hour.
[00:46:31.180] - Christian
But if you get a 100 percent renewable system for 50 euros per megawatt hour build from now on in the next 20, 25 years, then just investing in fossil and nuclear burns, financial resources, which in particular after, or now after the COVID 19 crisis, we simply do not have anymore. We did not have these resources before. We even have less resources now. So all new investments have to be fully sustainable. Otherwise they're a burden for the welfare of our societies.
[00:47:05.080] - Torsten
So governments all over the world now think about how can they can restart the economy? And many now want to have this money spent in into renewables to start the solar economy on a grand scale. Right in all over the world. Do you think mankind, or single countries will use this opportunity to spend this money which has to be invested wisely or. What's your bet? Let's say let's look at France and in Germany and the U.S.. How will the prime ministers decide how where would the money go? Support restart the old, let's say, old economy or start to put the money into solar.
[00:48:00.740] - Christian
It's not that easy, at least what we can see COVID 19 crisis right now is that right wing, populistic country show a very poor performance there. Most people die. Countries which lay more effort and commonsense and discussing what we call open society, they do the much better decisions. And I guess it will be the same in the energy system. So some countries will go for more clever solutions. So they will reinvest in what we call a green deal, whether it's in the U.S. or in Europe.
[00:48:38.930] - Christian
But not all countries will go for such bright ideas. And when I should bet on single countries, let's see. So. Germany may have good preconditions, but the coal exit until 2038 is a very, very poor, commonsense. Coal has to be stopped in less than 10 years time. Everyone knows that. So whether we do this good ideas, I don't know. Many claim that, for example, ramping up again, the automotive industry should be done with sustainable concepts.
[00:49:16.400] - Christian
Let's see whether we get a push for electric vehicles, which might be forced to use only renewable electricity, because this will be a really clever idea of whether old diesel cars are pushed into the market, worsening the situation. So let's see. If I would have a wish or could have a wish, only the sustainable solutions which could be part of a really serious green deal should be supported when it comes to infrastructure investments and others should really use this major economic turning point to make everyone clear. Some activities have to be stopped and sustainable ones should be ramped now and not putting new money for old solutions. That does not bring us further.
[00:50:12.620] - Torsten
You just mentioned the car industry and then both of us are Germans. In Germany is a car country and the car industry is massively affected now by by COVID 19. We have the diesel crisis, diesel scandals and. Basically, when you think about it in a rational way, the kind you should now be interested massively. To switch the. To switch to renewables really quickly. Right. Otherwise, the electric cars don't make sense. Right.
[00:50:50.460] - Christian
Electric cars are great, but they have to be pushed into the market. So just let's take the announcement of the largest car manufacturer in the world, which is Volkswagen that just recently was it in February, in March, announce that their new platform for electric vehicles, which is this ID 3, should have a selling price, not different to a combustion car. But we know the running cost of electric vehicle is lower than that of a combustion car. So that will be the killer application. However, currently you cannot yet buy it.
[00:51:23.160] - Christian
But the point is, if there is a part for the automotive industry, from my point of view, it should be only for sustainable solutions. And then they have to deliver and maybe then they can even restructure their companies faster. So if you can sign now a contract that you can sell a sustainable car in half a year, it should be still fine for the company. And then they have to ramp up their more sustainable solutions even faster because they're all in this in this transition phase.
[00:51:50.820] - Christian
And the companies, whether it's for Daimler, whether it's for BMW, whether it's for Volkswagen, there is no difference. And then they would have high gross in segments which are really sustainable and maybe more pressure in the segments which finally have no bright future anyway.
[00:52:14.380] - Torsten
Thanks a lot. Thanks a lot. And another report was just published. It's the I.T. RPV Roadmap. It's a roadmap for the for the solar industry and they. This report also cited some of your research results?
[00:52:34.750] - Torsten
How much PV production is it rerun? Right now, we have a pretty PV production capacity of around 100 hundred gigawatts a year. So what's the focus going to look like for in 2030, 2050?
[00:52:52.170] - Christian
There is a huge range of numbers. It's the question whom you ask. So maybe first of all, this I.T. RPV is really, really a great source of information for PV. So quite many information slides, diagrams provided there are far more technical scope.
[00:53:12.600] - Christian
So how specific technology is and then shares of technologies develop? I think it's great reference for everyone who is interested, more detailed in the industry when it comes to the market outlooks are currently end of last year, we had 615 gigawatts installed capacity in the world. Rig