The paradigm of “solar power agriculture” or “agri-energy” outlined here falls within some well known and accepted paradigms of agriculture and it goes one step beyond the idea that renewables are useful for supplying isolated areas with energy. Here, it is the opposite case: the existing power lines can be used for carrying the rurally produced electricity to towns and industrial centers at little or no additional costs. Carrying their products to town is what the rural world has been doing during the past 10,000 years or so.
The concept of “solar power agriculture” permits to approach the problem of introducing renewable energy in the world supply in a completely different way than the presently accepted industrial paradigm. The use of renewables for isolated or remote areas is probably reaching saturation whereas the idea of placing large solar plants in deserted areas has not materialized yet for the high investments needed and for the lack of a suitable infrastructure for transporting the energy produced. However, once electricity (or other forms of energy) are placed in the same range of products as agricultural products, we immediately set a path of growth which is gradual, economically sound, requires low investments, and which can be put into practice in OECD countries without revolutionary changes.
The present work has calculated that the fraction of land needed for present-day renewable technology to provide the world with an amount of energy comparable to the energy produced by fossil fuels would have only a minimal impact on food and textile agricultural production. The experience of the past decade shows that renewable energy production can grow at a yearly rate higher than 20%, much larger than the present trends of increase in energy production (around 2% year). If these trends could be maintained, even ambitious targets such as the complete replacement of fossil fuels by renewables are not impossible in less than one century.