Conclusions

A renewable-intensive global energy future is technically feasible, and the prospects are excellent that a wide range of renewable energy technologies will become fully competitive with conventional sources of energy during the next several decades. However, the transition to

  1990     2025     2050    
  IC DV Global IC DV Global IC DV Global
Solid Fuels                  
Coal 60.5 29.5 90.0 23.0 65.8 88.8 10.4 48.6 59.0
Biomass and other 5.0 - 5.0 11.7 21.4 33.1 15.3 32.5 47.8
Subtotal 65.5 29.5 95.1 34.7 87.2 121.9 25.2 81.1 106.8
Liquid Fuels                  
Oil 63.9 63.7 127.6 26.5 50.0 76.5 15.3 49.3 64.3
  (30.8) (-31.2)   (12.4) (-12.4)   (10.1) (-10.4)  
Methanol Biomass - - 12.2 32.3 44.5 14.6 46.8 61.5  
      (11.4) (-11.4)   (9.2) (-9.1)    
Ethanol from sugarcane - - - 0.9 0.9 - 1.0 1.0  
Subtotal 90.7 32.5 127.6 62.5 59.4 121.9 49.2 77.6 126.8
                   
Gaseous Fuels                  
Natural gas 53.6 11.3 64.9 49.3 43.8 93.2 45.6 62.2 107.9
  (2.5) (-2.4)   (5.3) (-5.3)   (6.5) (-6.5)  
H2 from biomass - - 7.2 8.5 15.7 8.6 16.5 25.1  
Biogas (dung) - - 1.7 8.0 9.7 1.7 12.7 14.1  
Biogas (distilleries) - - - 0.2 0.2 - 0.2 0.2  
H2 from intermittents - - 5.3 4.5 9.8 6.8 7.4 14.4  
  - - (3.0) (-3.0)   (4.4) (-4.4)    
Subtotal 56.1 8.9 64.9 71.8 56.7 128.6 73.6 88.1 161.7
                   
CO2 emmissions in MtC 4,143 1,491 5,633 2,071 2,897 4,965 1,458 2,732 4,191
[index,1990=100] 100% 100% 100% 50% 194 88% 35% 183% 74%
CO2 per capita in tC 3,382 0.410 -1.158 1.450 0.430 0.607 1.010 0.340 0.440
[index,1990=100] 100% 100% 100% 43% 105% 52% 30% 83% 38%

Table 3: Direct Fuel supplies scenarios in EJ per year (Brackets mean impo/expo) [29]

renewables will not occur at the pace envisaged if existing market conditions remain unchanged.

Private companies are unlikely to make the investments necessary to develop renewable technologies because the benefits are distant and not easily captured by individual firms.
Capturing the potential for renewables requires new policy initiatives. The following policy initiatives are proposed to encourage innovation and investment in renewable technologies:

Subsidies that artificially reduce the price of fuels that competes with renewable should be removed; if existing subsidies cannot be removed for political reasons, renewable energy technologies should be given equivalent initiatives.

Taxes, regulations, and other policy instruments should ensure that consumer decisions are based on a full cost of the energy, including environmental and other external costs not reflected in market prices.

Government support for research, development and demonstration of renewable energy technologies should be increased to reflect the critical roles that renewables can play in meeting energy, development, and environmental objectives. This should be carried out in close cooperation with the private sector.

Government regulations of electric utilities should be carefully reviewed to ensure that investments in new generating equipment are consistent with a renewable-intensive future and that utilities are involved in programs to demonstrate new renewable energy technologies in their service territories.

Policies designed to encourage the development of a biofuels industry must be closely coordinated with both national agricultural development programs and efforts to restore degraded land.

National institutions should be created or strengthened to implement renewable energy programs.

International development funds available for the energy sector should be directed increasingly to renewables.

A strong international institution should be created to assist and coordinate national and regional programs for increased use of renewables, to support the assessment of energy options, and to support centers of excellence in specialized areas of renewable energy research.

The integrating theme for all these initiatives should be an energy policy aimed at promoting sustainable development. It will not be possible to provide the energy needed to bring a decent standard of living to the world’s poor or to sustain the economic well-being of the industrialised countries in environmentally acceptable ways, if the present course continues. The path to a sustainable society requires more efficient energy use and a shift to a variety of renewable energy sources.

The central challenge to policy makers in the decades to come is to frame economic policies that simultaneously satisfy both socio-economic developmental and environmental challenges. It is important to remark that even though the renewable-intensive global energy future is technically feasible, the level of renewable energy development that is indicated in it represents a tiny portion of the technical potential for renewable energy. Higher levels might be pursued if society should seek greater reduction in CO2 emissions.

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