Fossil fuels replaced by 2050
Feb 19, 2011 - Tulsa World - energycentral.com
Almost all of the world's demand for energy for electricity, transportation
and heating could be met from renewable sources such as wind, solar and geothermal
power by 2050, WWF International and Ecofys said.
The share of oil, coal, gas and nuclear power in the global energy mix could
be whittled down to 5 percent over the next four decades, the two groups said
Wednesday in an e-mailed report. Energy- saving measures can cut total demand
by 15 percent from 2005 levels even as the population, industrial output, freight
and passenger travel rise, they said.
The effort would require $4.8 trillion a year in spending by 2035 on modernizing
buildings and electricity grids, and expanding wind farms and solar parks.
It would take until 2040 to pay off.
"This is insurance against the volatility of oil and gas prices and
climate change," Stephan Singer, editor of the study and director of energy
policy at WWF, said from Brussels. "It can be done using currently available
technologies" and ones due in the market in the next few years.
Ecofys is a Utrecht, Netherlands-based energy consultant, and WWF, based
in Gland, Switzerland, is known as the World Wildlife Fund in the U.S.
The Paris-based International Energy Agency last year estimated that $33
trillion of energy infrastructure investment is needed by 2035 if countries
are to meet their international commitments to limit greenhouse gases.
That figure, which averages out at $1.3 trillion a year, doesn't include
consumer purchases of goods such as more efficient cars and refrigerators,
which are included in today's study, Singer said. Those alone could total another
$2 trillion a year, closing the gap with the IEA research, he said.
Singer said new technologies that aren't currently close to commercialization
could make it possible to get 100 percent of the world's energy needs from
renewables by 2050.
Achieving the ramp-up in energy efficiency and renewable power would require
behavior changes including eating less meat, using more public transport, and
electrifying cars, he said. New financing models will be needed to promote
investments that generate long- term gains rather than immediate profits, he
"Sufficiency must be part of the solution - technology is not the sole
provider," Singer said. "The global middle classes and the global
rich of this world are not a blueprint model for the poor." SUBHEAD: WWF
and Ecofys say most energy needs could be met by then with renewable sources.
Originally published by ALEX MORALES Bloomberg News.
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