The world is using more energy than ever before. Currently, most of it comes from burning coal, oil, and gas. But with CO2 levels in the atmosphere surging into the danger zone, kicking our fossil fuel habit is not just a smart move—it’s the only way forward.
It’s no surprise, then, that many countries are shifting towards clean energy sources. China added solar panels representing a capacity of 15 gigawatts last year—more than three times the total solar output of Australia—and now has more photovoltaic capacity than any other country. Germany passed a clean energy milestone in December 2015 when, for the first time, it generated more power from wind turbines than from any other source.
But could we power the entire world solely on renewables? Odds are against that happening, but renewables are becoming an increasing part of the global energy mix. In the graphic below, we’ve drawn up a roadmap to a clean energy future where we might meet rising demand through more sustainable energy generation. Innovation is key to making this vision a reality. Digital technologies, such as networked wind farms and smart grids, will make wind and solar plants more reliable and efficient in the next decade. Beyond that it gets more bizarre: one day our energy could come from turbines in the sky, industrial ecoparks, or gigantic batteries coupled with power plants.
All these technologies are being developed, tested, and refined today. Now the challenge is to roll them out.
This article was produced by Quartz creative services and not by the Quartz editorial staff.