From: University of Copenhagen
Published March 11, 2009 10:02 AM

New renewables to power 40 per cent of global electricity demand by 2050

With global cooperation and investment, renewables’ share will exceed all previous estimates

With adequate financial and political support, renewable energy technologies like wind and photovoltaics could supply 40 percent of the world's electricity by 2050, according to findings from the International Scientific Congress "Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges & Decisions." However, if such technologies are marginalized, its share is likely to hover below 15 percent.

This research was presented at a press conference by Peter Lund of the Helsinki University of Technology's Advanced Energy Systems in Espoo, Finland, ahead of the scheduled congress session titled, "Renewable Energies: How Far Can They Take Us?"

"Our findings demonstrate that with global political support and financial investment, previous notions that the potential for renewables was in some way limited to a negligible fraction of world demand were wrong," said Lund. "If we prioritize and recognize the value of renewable energy technologies, their potential to supply us with the energy we need is tremendous."

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Previous projections put renewables' share at only 12 percent by 2030. Other research within the same congress session further supports the viability of renewables, examining closely the limitations and potential of wind, biomass and biofuels.

According to Erik Lundtang Petersen of Risoe DTU's Wind Energy Department in Roskilde, Denmark, in order for the wind sector to deliver its full potential, it must focus on efficiently delivering, installing and connecting large amounts of wind power to the grid, with strong concern for reliability, availability and accessibility of the turbines.

"We have identified specific areas of priority for the wind sector to effectively deliver the overall objective of cost reductions," said Petersen. "Research areas including turbine technology, wind energy integration and offshore deployment will be crucial to maximizing future growth."

Within biofuels and biomass, research conducted by Jeanette Whitaker of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Lancaster, UK found that second generation biofuels, such as ethanol from woody crops/straw, had substantially lower energy requirements and greenhouse gas emissions than first generation biofuels, such as ethanol made from foodstuffs, for example wheat and sugar beet.

"These findings are important and relevant, as the current biofuel debate has centered on the issue of the competing need for crops to be used for food versus fuel," said Whitaker.

All of these findings and hundreds more are being presented by thousands of climate researchers from more than 70 countries at "Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges & Decisions" taking place in Copenhagen, Denmark, 10-12 March 2009 (www.climatecongress.ku.dk).

The purpose of the congress is to deliver an update on our knowledge of climate change and how to address the risks and opportunities ahead. The results will be presented to world leaders as they gather later this year in Copenhagen for the post-Kyoto negotiations at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15).

About the congress

The International Scientific Congress on Climate Change is taking place in Copenhagen 10 — 12 March. More than 2,000 participants are registered. The congress has received almost 1,600 scientific contributions from researchers from more than 70 countries. The preliminary conclusions from the congress will be presented Thursday 12 March at the closing session of the congress and will be developed in a synthesis report to be published in June this year. The synthesis report will be handed over to all participants at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) in December in Copenhagen by the Danish Government.

The congress is organized by International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU):

Australian National University 
ETH Zürich 
National University of Singapore 
Peking University 
University of California, Berkeley 
University of Cambridge 
University of Copenhagen 
University of Oxford 
University of Tokyo 
Yale University

DISCLAIMER: THIS PRESS RELEASE IS WRITTEN BY THE CLIMATE SECRETARIAT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF COPENHAGEN. THE PEOPLE QUOTED DOES NOT NECESSARILY SHARE THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED BY OTHERS IN THIS TEXT.

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