Azara Blog: Yet another report charting the way forward for renewable energy

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Date published: 2007/01/25

The BBC says:

Half of the world's energy needs in 2050 could be met by renewables and improved efficiency, a study has said.

It said alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar, could provide nearly 70% of the world's electricity and 65% of global heat demand.

Following a "business as usual" scenario would see demand for energy double by 2050, the authors warned.

The study, by the German Aerospace Center, was commissioned by Greenpeace and Europe's Renewable Energy Council.

The report, Energy Revolution: a sustainable world energy outlook, provided a "roadmap" for meeting future energy needs without fuelling climate change, said Sven Teske from Greenpeace International.

"We have shown that the world can have safe, robust renewable energy, that we can achieve the efficiencies needed and we can do all of this while enjoying global economic growth," he said.

He added that the strategy outlined in the report showed that it was economically feasible to cut global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by almost 50% over the next 43 years.

Given who commissioned the report, one has to take the whole thing with a pinch of salt. A lot of the report is about presumed increases in energy efficiency (e.g. graph on page 8). Well anybody can play that game, it has nothing to do with whether renewable energy is used, or not. Of course they also want to decrease fossil fuel consumption. (And who knows, maybe China will soon stop opening up a new coal power plant every N weeks.)

For various reasons they do not consider nuclear power (but of course these people never liked nuclear power). Along the same line, they have a political goal of decentralised power generation (but of course these people never liked corporations). That has yet to be proven to be sensible. But at least they consider hydropower, along with their favourite pet technologies (like solar).

As a taste of the flavour of the report, consider these paragraphs (page 5):

By choosing renewable energy and energy efficiency, developing countries can virtually stabilise their CO2 emissions, whilst at the same time increasing energy consumption through economic growth. OECD countries will have to reduce their emissions by up to 80%.

There is no need to "freeze in the dark" for this to happen. Strict technical standards will ensure that only the most efficient fridges, heating systems, computers and vehicles will be on sale. Consumers have a right to buy products that don”t increase their energy bills and won”t destroy the climate.

The UK government has promised 60% reductions in emissions by 2050, so of course no self-respecting so-called environmentalist can now ask for anything less than 80% (and indeed, some are clamouring for 90%).

And how touching that they believe that consumers "have a right to buy products that don't increase their energy bills". Since "only the most efficient fridges", etc., will be allowed to be on sale, evidently there is no "right to buy products that do increase energy bills". So what they really mean to say is that consumers will only have the "right" to buy things that the ruling elite decides they can buy.

They are evidently keen to stress the message that nobody will "freeze in the dark". (The same phrase is used in the BBC report.) They have evidently learned that their usual negative tirade against the alleged consumptive evils of Western society doesn't go down too well amongst ordinary people.

Of course a lot of emissions come from transport. The report claims (page 80) that "Use of hybrid vehicles (electric/combustion) and other efficiency measures could reduce energy consumption in passenger cars by up to 80% in 2050". Well, it will be interesting to see if that happens. (And if it does happen, whatever will the hysterical anti-car brigade think to complain about next when it comes to cars.)

Oddly, there is no mention of air transport, and many people claim (for mainly political reasons) that air transport will dominate carbon emissions in 2050.

Let's see if these people put their money where their mouths are, and actually try and make these things happen (by doing some science and engineering), instead of just writing reports.

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