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World Energy Council Cites Need for More Renewables, Nuclear

Sep 19, 2007 - NGI's Power Market Today

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 survey noted.

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 production facilities."

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 report noted.

The report may be downloaded at www.worldenergy.org/ under "Publications."

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