Potential of Renewable Energy Outlined in Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

May 08, 2011 by Jeff Shepard

The total global potential for renewable energy "is substantially higher than both current and future projected global energy demand" is the message of the Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation released by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Abu Dhabi.

The report states that renewable energy production will increase "anywhere from roughly three-fold to more than ten-fold by 2050."

IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri cited wind energy’s 32% growth rate in 2009 as an example of "the impressive growth rate of renewables". The IPCC’s experts on energy and climate science reported that almost half of the new electricity production capacity installed in the world in the two year period 2008-2009 was renewable sources (140 Gigawatts of 300 Gigawatts).

The panel experts stated that 19% of the total global electricity supply came from renewable energy in 2008. The share of renewable energy rose to 12.9% of the global primary energy production and provided more than six times more than the global nuclear energy production at 2%.

Youba Sokona, Co-Chair of the Working Group III, said: "The potential role of renewable energy technologies in meeting the needs of the poor and in powering the sustainable growth of developing and developed economies can trigger sharply polarized views. This IPCC report has brought some much needed clarity to this debate in order to inform governments on the options and decisions that will be needed if the world is to collectively realize a low carbon, far more resource efficient and equitable development path."

Ramon Pichs, Co-Chair of the Working Group III, added, "The report shows that it is not the availability of the resource, but the public policies that will either expand or constrain renewable energy development over the coming decades. Developing countries have an important stake in this future – this is where most of the 1.4 billion people without access to electricity live yet also where some of the best conditions exist for renewable energy deployment."