Renewable energy to become world's second-largest power generation source
by 2015, says IEA
Nov 12, 2012 - renewableenergyfocus.com
The global energy map is changing “in dramatic fashion”, the International
Energy Agency (IEA) said today, as it launched the 2012 edition of its World
While it's America’s push on oil and gas production, rather than renewable
energy, making the most impact globally, the agency predicts that renewables
will become the world's second-largest source of power generation by 2015 and
close in on coal as the primary source by 2035.
However, this rapid increase in the role of renewable energy for power generation “hinges
critically on continued subsidies”. In 2011, subsidies for renewables
(including for biofuels) amounted to $88 billion - over the period to 2035
they need to increase to $4.8 trillion, the IEA says. Over half of this has
already been committed to existing projects or is needed to meet 2020 targets.
Greenpeace quickly picked up on the fact that the IEA’s forecast “shows
more work [is] needed to avoid catastrophic climate change”. Government
ambition on developing renewable energy is “seriously inadequate” to
meet their promises to hold the average global temperature increase to 2 degrees
Celsius, said Sven Teske, energy campaigner with Greenpeace International.
“Renewable energy must grow to 65% of electricity production and energy
efficiency must increase by 2035 to reduce the impact of climate change. Otherwise,
based on this forecast, the world is still headed for a catastrophic temperature
increase of 4 to 6 degrees Celsius,” he said.
The IEA's new policy scenario, the main analytical scenario underpinning its
World Energy Outlook, shows that by 2035:
Global electricity consumption would grow by 15,000TWh with 7000TWh covered
3400TWh of wind and solar powered generation would be added, more than the
entire electricity consumption of the European Union.
The Greenpeace Energy [R]evolution 2012 scenario for replacing fossil fuels
with renewable energy, shows:
Double the new renewables of the IEA forecast are required, coupled with increased
energy efficiency, to address climate change adequately,
Renewable energy can reach 65% of global electricity production with the right
government programmes and incentives.
Teske added: "Without increased ambition on renewables, the IEA shows
that almost 700 new, dirty coal-fired power plants could be developed by 2025,
a disaster for the climate and for precious water resources."
Water use for electricity generation
The IEA also notes that the energy sector already accounts for 15% of the
world's total water use. “Its needs are set to grow, making water an
increasingly important criterion for assessing the viability of energy projects”,
In some regions, water constraints are already affecting the reliability of
existing operations and they will introduce additional costs. It adds that
expanding power generation and biofuels output underpin an 85% increase in
the amount consumed (the volume of water that is not returned to its source
after use) through to 2035, a point also stressed by Synapse Energy Economics
Meantime, while ambitions for nuclear have been scaled back as countries have
reviewed policies following the accident at Fukushima Daiichi, capacity is
still projected to rise, led by China, Korea, India and Russia. But it is America’s
drive on fossil fuels which will “recast expectations about the role
of different countries, regions and fuels in the global energy system over
the coming decades”, the IEA stressed.
"North America is at the forefront of a sweeping transformation in oil
and gas production that will affect all regions of the world, yet the potential
also exists for a similarly transformative shift in global energy efficiency," said
IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven. "This year's World Energy
Outlook shows that by 2035, we can achieve energy savings equivalent to nearly
a fifth of global demand in 2010. In other words, energy efficiency is just
as important as unconstrained energy supply, and increased action on efficiency
can serve as a unifying energy policy that brings multiple benefits."
Fossil fuel growth
The WEO finds that the extraordinary growth in oil and natural gas output
in the United States will mean a sea-change in global energy flows. In the
new policies scenario, the US becomes a net exporter of natural gas by 2020
and is almost self-sufficient in energy, in net terms, by 2035. North America
emerges as a net oil exporter, accelerating the switch in direction of international
oil trade, with almost 90% of Middle Eastern oil exports being drawn to Asia
While regional dynamics change, global energy demand will push ever higher,
growing by more than one-third to 2035, the IEA continues. China, India and
the Middle East account for 60% of the growth; demand barely rises in the OECD,
but there is a pronounced shift towards gas and renewables.
Fossil fuels will remain dominant in the global energy mix, supported by subsidies
that, in 2011, jumped by almost 30% to $523 billion, due mainly to increases
in the Middle East and North Africa. Global oil demand grows by 7 mb/d to 2020
and exceeds 99 mb/d in 2035, by which time oil prices reach $125/barrel in
real terms (over $215/barrel in nominal terms). A surge in unconventional and
deepwater oil boosts non-OPEC supply over the current decade, but the world
relies increasingly on OPEC after 2020. Iraq accounts for 45% of the growth
in global oil production to 2035 and becomes the second-largest global oil
exporter, overtaking Russia.
While the regional picture for natural gas varies, global demand increases
by 50% to 5 trillion cubic metres in 2035. Nearly half of the increase in production
to 2035 is from unconventional gas, with most of this coming from the United
States, Australia and China. Meantime, whether demand for coal carries on rising
strongly or changes course radically will depend on the strength of policy
decisions around lower-emissions energy sources and changes in the price of
coal relative to natural gas. In the new policies dcenario, global coal demand
increases by 21% and is heavily focused in China and India.