In the midst of a global climate change strategy among policymakers, the demand for fossil fuels is surging, which in turn is impacting the deployment of clean energy technologies, according to a report released Wednesday at the second Clean Energy Ministerial in Abu Dhabi.
The "Clean Energy Progress Report" was presented by Ambassador Richard Jones, deputy executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), who spoke at the second major meeting of energy ministers from around the world. A first clean energy session for the ministers was hosted last year by U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Jones said the world's continuing reliance on fossil fuels is creating political, economic and environmental problems.
The IEA's conclusion is that there are three options for fossil fuels, particularly coal: more efficient generation, switching to natural gas-fired generation, and stepping up development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects. While there are more than 70 CCS project currently planned, the report said it is uncertain how many will actually get done given recent delays or cutbacks in public funding.
Concentrating on the last decade, the report said coal accounted for fueling 47% of the new global electricity demand, despite the fact that there have been improved energy efficiency measures and what Jones called rapid growth in use of renewable energy resources.
"A number of countries have shown that achieving rapid transition to cleaner technologies is possible, and can be done from the bottom up," Jones said. "We must see more ambitious, effective policies that respond to market signals while providing long-term, predictable support."
Even with the persistent use of coal-fired generation worldwide, the report acknowledged that the past decade included "a positive rise" in renewable energy development, particularly for solar and wind power. A recent study documented record growth in the U.S. solar industry last year, citing a 67% increase in the sector's market value to $6 billion.
"In the case of solar energy, at least 10 countries now have sizeable domestic markets, up from just three in 2000," the IEA report said. "Wind power also experienced dramatic growth during the last decade with global installed capacity at the end of 2010 at 194 GW, compared to 17 GW at the end of 2000."
Ultimately a doubling of renewable energy use is needed in the next 10 years if ambitious goals for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) by 2050 are going to be met.
Copies of the report are available by e-mailing IEA at IEAPressOffice@iea.org.
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