Report: How Green is Our Energy Future?


Last week the International Energy Agency released its 2010 edition of the World Energy Outlook, which uses scenarios to project the world’s energy demand and production until 2035.

The share of renewable energy used in global electricity increased 19 percent in 2008 to almost a third, which matches the use of coal, according to the World Energy Outlook Report. Photo: Lori Brown,

The WEO report also outlines what our green energy future looks like. In its New Policies Scenario, which accounts for recent measures and supposes that governments will follow through on fossil fuel policy commitments, renewable energy generation like hydropower and wind power will triple in the next 25 years. Between 2010 and 2035, investment in renewable energy will be about $5.7 trillion.

The report also found solar energy is likely to only account for 2 percent of global electricity generation by 2035. However, the use of solar energy for heat production in buildings and industry will increase from 10 percent to 16 percent.

Biofuels were also highlighted in the study. In 2009, international government support for renewable energy was about $37 billion and support for biofuels was $20 billion. Biofuels, which must contain more than 80 percent renewable materials, will grow from 3 percent to 8 percent of road transport fuel by 2035.

While all of this sounds like renewable, greener energy is on an unstoppable rise, the report also concluded that the much cheaper energy source of oil will remain the dominant way of creating power on the planet. In fact, it projected that the demand for oil will increase steadily over the next 25 years, and the price is expected to swell by 88 percent to $113 per barrel.

The biggest hurdle to creating more sustainable and renewable energy is economics. “[…] How quickly their (renewables) contribution to meeting the world’s energy needs grows hinges critically on the strength of government support to stimulate technological advances and make renewables cost competitive with other energy sources,” the report said.

Until renewables are considered economically viable, the report suggests, they will continue to lose out to oil and fossil fuels for many years to come.

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