Report explores energy technology roadmap for Low Carbon Economy

December 28 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Environment   Year: 2010   Rating: 2

lowcarbon

'The New Energy Economy' is the latest policy buzz word being used to describe the vision of a future global economy that runs on clean, abundant energy systems.

The incentives to accelerate this cleantech future are growing.  Beyond issues of climate change, there are increasing concerns about accelerating resource depletion and 'peak' production of key resources as the world adds 3 billion people and doubles energy consumption by 2050. Paris-based International Energy Agency estimates that peak oil production could occur as soon as 2020.

The 'new energy economy' will require leaps in performance with new forms of energy production and storage systems.  

Nothing is likely to happen quickly as the transition takes decades to unfold.  And while our dependency on fossil fuels is likely to continue through mid-century, big changes are ahead.

World Watch Energy Report
The World Watch has released a report (PDF) looking at a roadmap towards a lower carbon economy based on a wide range of new energy systems.

"We are on the verge of an energy revolution," says Flavin. "With strong political leadership, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to use policy and technology innovation to stave off the greatest human-caused threat our planet has seen."

World Watch believes that 'these new energy sources will make it possible to retire hundreds of coal-fired power plants that now provide 40 percent of the world's power by 2030, eliminating up to one-third of global carbon dioxide emissions while creating millions of new jobs.'

The report's roadmap includes:

- Buildings consume about 40 percent of global energy and emit a comparable share of carbon dioxide emissions. With technologies available today, such as more-efficient lighting and appliances and improved walls and windows, the energy needs of buildings can be reduced by 70 percent or more, with the investment paid for via lower energy bills.

-Two-thirds of the energy contained in the fuel for most power plants is converted to waste heat or lost in distribution. Combined heat and power (CHP) can reduce those losses to less than 20 percent and provide the United States with 150 gigawatts of generating capacity-more than nuclear power now provides.

-In 2007, wind power represented 40 percent of new generating capacity installations in Europe and 35 percent in the United States. Wind power now costs just under six cents per kilowatt-hour on average-less than natural gas and roughly even with coal.

-An area covering less than 4 percent of the Sahara Desert could produce enough solar power to match global electricity demand.

- Investment in new renewable electric and heating capacity equaled an estimated $71 billion in 2007, up from just $20 billion in 2002.

-By 2006, the U.S. renewables industry had created 386,000 jobs compared with 82,000 jobs in the coal industry.

-The development of smart electricity grids, the integration of plug-in electric vehicles, and the addition of limited storage capacity will allow power to be provided without the "baseload" plants that are the foundation of today's electricity systems.

World Watch PDF & Press Release

 

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