Fossil fuels will continue to play
an important role in energy supply in the decades
to come, but every effort has to be made to develop
cleaner, more efficient energy technologies that
include renewables and nuclear power, according
to the World Energy Council (WEC).
The London-based group issued its 2007 Survey
of Energy Resources on Wednesday. The 600-page
report updates a previous survey by the WEC in
2002, focusing mostly on global oil and natural
gas resources. The survey also reviewed prospects
for uranium and nuclear energy, peat and geothermal
energy, as well as hydropower, bioenergy, solar,
wind, tidal and wave energy.
"Higher world prices for fossil fuels have put
nuclear power on the agenda of many countries
currently with no nuclear generating capacity
and have revived interest in many countries with
stagnating or declining nuclear capability," the
According to the report, there were 435 nuclear
power reactors worldwide at the beginning of 2007
with an aggregate generating capacity of 367 GW.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved
eight license renewals of 20 years each, which
would bring the number of approved renewals to
47 in the United States by the end of 2007.
"Uranium resources are seen to be plentiful and
not to constitute in themselves a constraint on
nuclear power development," the report noted.
"The limiting factor is timely investment in new
According to the report, hydroelectric power
is "easily the largest of the perpetual or so-called
renewable energy resources." In 2005, hydro held
87% of the renewables market. That year, 18 GW
of new capacity came into operation, bringing
total world capacity to nearly 778 GW.
However, hydro's potential is enormous. The International
Hydropower Association estimates that only one-third
of the "realistic potential" has so far been developed,
the survey noted.
Another renewable showing growing potential is
solar, the authors noted. "There is a useable
solar resource in virtually all parts of the world,
and economically attractive applications are not
confined to the sunniest regions."
The fastest growing market, however, is wind
energy, where installed generating capacity has
grown 89% to 59 GW from 31 GW in 2002. According
to the WEC, wind capacity has grown rapidly since
1990, doubling every three and a half years to
reach 72,000 MW per year.
"Substantial further development of wind power
capacity is foreseen, although the actual rate
will depend on the level of political support
provided by governments and the international
community, in turn reflecting the degree of commitment
to achieving emissions reduction targets," the
The report may be downloaded at www.worldenergy.org/
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