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Recommendations for the Future of Energy

Released by the 17th World Energy Council, Houston Texas

The World Energy Council, on behalf of thirty-five energy ministers and five thousand energy executives from nearly 100 countries, issued conclusions and recommendations today at the 17th Congress of the World Energy Council to address how the world's energy sources will be used.

While the world has an abundance of accessible energy resources that are more than sufficient to meet growth, the possibility of climate change and the ways energy production and use can cause severe environmental degradation and ill health continue to pose enormous challenges for the world's energy sector. New energy technologies will foster economic development, mitigate environmental impacts and sustain energy resources.

Congress delegates identified several main concerns such as the chilling effect current financial volatility and political instability are having on energy investment in countries where there is significant need, and the fact that 20 percent of the world's population uses 80 percent of the world's energy production.

The WEC derived the following conclusions from this Congress:

  1. Global energy consumption will grow by about 50 percent in 20 years.
  2. Both traditional* and new renewable energy sources have an important place in future energy supply.
  3. While fuel, wood and coal will remain the principal energy supply resources for many developing countries, distributed generators -- microturbines, diesels, and fuel cells -- and renewable technologies, specifically wind, biomass and solar, may provide a viable option for areas operating independent of power grid and fuel pipeline systems.
  4. Increased efficiency in the use of energy offers the most immediate, cost-effective, and largest opportunity to reduce resource consumption and environmental degradation.
  5. Cleaner and more versatile energy forms will characterize future energy systems.
  6. Sustainability will depend not only on an adequate energy supply, but also on the stimulation, stewardship and stability that educated and informed populations provide in today's interdependent nations.

Based on these conclusions, the WEC made the following recommendations:

  1. Industry and governments should sustain their efforts to widen the energy supply base into cost effective options.
  2. The accelerated development and use of renewable energy resources must be given high priority as a means of supplying commercial energy services to people without previous access to energy sources.
  3. Nuclear power should play a major role in contributing to electricity provision and in strategies to combat global warming.
  4. Government and industry should thoroughly assess the societal cost of a trend to larger, more energy consumptive options when environmental and infrastructure costs are mounting.
  5. Auto-oil partnerships should reduce local air pollution, especially in developing economies and should promote the transfer of advanced fuel and automotive technologies to these countries.
  6. The energy industry must sustain its commitment to research and development with government support for activities related to fostering the public good.

(* Traditional sources include: coal, oil, gas, nuclear and large hydro)

SOURCE: U.S. Energy Association 9/18/1998