Clean Energy 50 Percent of World Supply by 2050, Report Says
OSLO -- Clean energies could surge to supply half of world demand by 2050 if governments crack down on use of fossil fuels, said a study by the renewable energy industry and an environmental group on Thursday.
The European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) and Greenpeace said renewable energies -- including wind, hydro, solar, tidal power and biomass -- could leap from 13.2 percent of world supply if governments step up a fight against global warming.
"Renewable energy, combined with the smart use of energy, can deliver half of the world's energy needs by 2050," EREC and Greenpeace said in a report entitled "Energy (R)evolution". "The bad news is that time is running out."
The forecast is far more optimistic for renewable energies than a 2006 report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), which predicted that the share of renewables would gain fractionally by 2030 to 13.7 percent of world energy demand.
The IEA, which advises governments, predicted that oil, coal and natural gas would continue to dominate world energy supply in coming decades.
The EREC and Greenpeace study makes sharply different assumptions from the IEA, including that oil prices will reach $100 a barrel by 2050, promoting a shift to energy efficiency and to clean energies.
The IEA projects that oil prices, now at about $55 a barrel, will dip and then rise back to $55 a barrel by 2030.
"The days of 'cheap oil and gas' are coming to an end," the EREC and Greenpeace study said. EREC groups European organisations representing companies making everything from solar panels to wind turbines.
"By contrast, the reserves of renewable energy that are technically accessible globally are large enough to provide about six times more power than the world currently consumes -- forever," it said.
The report also projects that overall world energy demand could fall by about 6 percent by 2050, mainly thanks to greater efficiency and despite a growing world population.
The IEA projected last year that world demand will rise by more than 50 percent by 2030.
Sven Teske of Greenpeace, an author of the report, said the forecasts were realistic if governments take far tougher action to offset global warming.
"This can happen," he told Reuters. "A problem is that governments are now giving subsidies for renewable energies to compete against subsidised fossil fuels. It doesn't make sense."
The report also assumes that governments will impose a global price on emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas released mainly by burning fossil fuels. The study estimated a carbon price of $50 per tonne by 2050.