Renewables key for world energy supply
Renewable energy could meet nearly 80 percent of the world’s energy
needs by mid-century and play a crucial role in fighting global warming,
the UN’s climate scientists said Monday.
The 194-nation Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) said
renewable sources had grown rapidly, were widely competitive with fossil
energies and, technically, had almost limitless potential.
“This report has a huge implication for the manner in which energy is
going to be developed and used across the globe in the years ahead,”
IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri said at a press conference.
The thousand-page analysis, unveiled at a May 5-13 meeting of the
IPCC, evaluates 164 development scenarios with the goal of guiding
decision-makers in government and business.
“Renewable energy sources can contribute substantially to human
wellbeing by sustainably supplying energy and stabilising the climate,”
said Ottmar Edenhofer, a co-chair of the report.
Six types of renewables accounted in 2008 for 12.9 percent of global
energy supply: biomass (10.2 percent), hydro (2.3), wind (0.2), solar
(0.1), geothermal (0.1) and ocean (0.002), according to the study.
Once traditional use of firewood and animal dung for heating and
cooking is set aside, though, that share drops to about seven percent.
While still a small slice of a global energy mix massively dominated
by fossil fuel technologies, “growth in renewables have been very
impressive,” Pachauri said.
New investment in 2010 stood at 243 billion dollars, up from 186
billion the year before, Adnan Amin, director general of the
International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), reported at the press
A majority of the scenarios reviewed show a “substantial increase”
ranging from three-to-20 fold “in the deployment of renewable energy by
2030, 2050 and beyond.”
Clean energy’s share of future supply varies hugely across different
forecasts, with the most ambitious envisioning a world in which it
covers three-quarters of all energy needs.
The report is the first major document by the Nobel-winning panel
It concluded that there is virtually unlimited technical potential
for renewables, with much of it coming from solar energy, although
fossil-fuel subsidies remain a barrier.