Renewables will account for nearly half of the increase in global power generation to 2035—with China generating more than the US, Japan and the EU combined—according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) latest annual World Energy Outlook 2013 report released [recently].
Renewables will make up over 30% of the global power mix by 2035, with rapid expansions in wind and solar making up 45% of the expected increase in renewables. The renewables growth will all but reach coal as the top fuel type for power generation by 2035.
The IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2013 reports that technology and high costs are opening up new oil resources, and presents a scenario where despite current climate action, global energy demand will rise by one third and emissions by 20% by 2035. Authors estimate global energy demand will generally shift to Asia, as India and Southeast Asian countries lead on energy consumption.
IEA writes: “As the source of two-thirds of global greenhouse-gas emissions, the energy sector will be pivotal in determining whether or not climate change goals are achieved.” Authors recommend that policymakers mitigate the impact of high energy costs and rising energy-related carbon emissions with energy efficiency and renewables subsidies. IEA reports that China will see the biggest increase in generation from renewables, totaling more than the increase in the European Union, the US and Japan combined.
Brazil is also a special focus country in this year’s report, as it is set to become a major global energy producer. Despite seeing an 80% rise in energy use up to 2035, Brazil will maintain one of the least carbon-intensive energy sectors. IEA writes: “Brazil is already a world-leader in renewable energy and is set to almost double its output from renewables by 2035, maintaining their 43% share of the domestic energy mix. Hydropower remains the backbone of the power sector. […] By 2035, Brazilian biofuels meet almost one-third of domestic demand for road-transport fuel and its net exports account for about 40% of world biofuels trade.”
Energy efficiency measures highlighted in the report include building improvements in Europe and Japan, vehicles in the US and energy pricing reforms in China and India. But despite current efforts, the IEA states that two-thirds of the economic potential of energy efficiency is set to remain untapped in the central scenario. IEA suggests: “Action is needed to break down the various barriers to investment in energy efficiency. This includes phasing out fossil-fuel subsidies, which we estimate rose to US$544 billion worldwide in 2012.”
“Major changes are emerging in the energy world in response to shifts in economic growth, efforts at decarbonisation and technological breakthroughs,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven. “We have the tools to deal with such profound market change. Those that anticipate global energy developments successfully can derive an advantage, while those that do not risk taking poor policy and investment decisions.”