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[Episode #169] – Is the Energy Transition Feasible?

We know energy transition is needed to achieve our climate goals - 1.5˚ or some increasingly dire impacts are on the table. We know the transition is technically possible, economically affordable, and pragmatically doable. We know the policies needed to get the transition done. We know the opponents of transition and how to win against them.

Despite all that we know, there are a lot of unanswered questions about the feasibility of energy transition from a historical and empirical perspective. Can the transition happen fast enough? For each fuel source? In every country?

Our guest in this episode, Dr. Jessica Jewell of the Center for Climate and Energy Transformations at the University of Bergen in Norway, has done extensive research on the feasibility of energy transition. She is also closely involved with the climate scenarios that have been used in the IPCC modeling and is exceptionally well-qualified to help us understand the feasibility question. We discuss research she has co-authored on the speed of solar, wind and nuclear adoption, as well as the speed of phasing out fossil fuels to see if those things are happening quickly enough to limit warming to 1.5°C. We’ll also ask whether the scenario modeling that has been done to date is really what is needed to get a handle on these questions, and how to improve it.


Dr. Jessica Jewell is an Associate Professor in the Department of Space, Earth and Environment at Chalmers University (Sweden) and a Professor at the Center for Climate and Energy Transformations at the University of Bergen (Norway). She leads an ERC project on the mechanisms of energy transitions and feasibility of climate action, a work-package in an H2020 project on European carbon-intensive regions, an RCN project on decline of fossil fuels and its implications, and co-leads a work package in MISTRA-Electric, a project on the feasibility of decarbonizing energy in Sweden through electrification. She also has worked at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (Austria) and the International Energy Agency (France).

She is a Guest Research Scholar in the IIASA Advancing Systems Analysis program and a member of the editorial board of Oxford Open Energy, Energy Research and Social Science, and the Routledge series on Energy Transitions. She was a contributing author in the IPCC WGIII fifth assessment report, a lead author in the Global Energy Assessment, a lead author of a report by the UN Secretary General’s Task Force on the SE4All renewables and efficiency targets, and led the development of the IEA’s model of short-term energy security (MOSES).

On Twitter: @jessicadjewell

On the Web:  Jessica’s page on Google Scholar

Recording date: February 23, 2022

Air date: March 30, 2022

Geek rating: 7