Fossil fuels replaced by 2050<

Fossil fuels replaced by 2050

Feb 19, 2011 - Tulsa World -

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.

Consumer impact

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 said.

"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.

(c) 2011 Tulsa World. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.