Global renewable electricity to grow 3.2% per year

The global installed capacity of green and renewable power by 2015 will be 62 GW, notes the International Energy Outlook 2010 released by the US Department of Energy (DoE). By 2020, it will be 70 GW and 91 GW by 2030.

OECD North America will expand from 7 GW to 19 GW from 2007 to 2035, representing an annual increase of 3.4%, while OECD Europe will grow from 25 to 28 GW, an annual increase of 0.4%.

Total OECD green and renewable energy growth will go from 35 to 50 GW (1.3% per annum) while the total for non-OECD countries will grow from 9 to 57 GW (6.9% per annum).

World energy use will grow 49% during that period, driven by economic growth in developing nations, predicts the reference case projection.

The global economic recession has had “a profound impact” on near-term prospects for energy demand but, as the economic situation improves, most nations are expected to return to the economic growth rates that were projected prior to the downturn.

Renewable energy is fastest growing source

“Renewables are the fastest-growing source of world energy supply, but fossil fuels are still set to meet more than three-fourths of total energy needs in 2035 assuming current policies are unchanged," explains Richard Newell of DoE’s Energy Information Administration.

Global net electricity generation increases by 87% from 18.8 TWh in 2007 to 35.2 TWh in 2035, with renewable energy increasing by per year in the reference case; followed by coal-fired generation.

The rapid increase in world energy prices and concerns about environmental impacts from burning fossil fuels, has led to renewed interest in alternatives such as renewable energy and nuclear. As a result, long-term prospects continue to improve for generation from both nuclear and renewable energy, supported by government incentives and by higher fossil fuel prices.

World share from renewable energy will be close to one-quarter

From 2007 to 2035, world use of renewable energy for electricity grows by an average of 3% per year and the renewable energy share of generation increases from 18% in 2007 to 23% in 2035.

Much of the world increase in green power is fuelled by hydropower and wind power. Of the 4.5 TWh of increased renewable generation over the period, 2.4 TWh (54%) is attributed to hydroelectricity and 1.2 TWh (26%) to wind.

“Except for those two sources, most renewable generation technologies are not economically competitive with fossil fuels over the projection period, outside a limited number of niche markets,” the report notes.

“Typically, government incentives or policies provide the primary support for construction of renewable generation facilities. Although they remain a small part of total renewable generation, renewables other than hydroelectricity and wind (including solar, geothermal, biomass, waste, and tidal/ wave/oceanic energy) do increase at a rapid rate over the projection period.”

A new addition to the latest energy analysis from DoE is the use of historical time series and projections for consumption of marketed industrial renewable energy.

Renewable energy (excluding consumption of electricity generated from renewable energy) constitutes a substantial portion of the world’s industrial sector energy consumption.

In 2007, the industrial sector consumed 13 quadrillion Btu of non-electricity renewable power, or 7% of the sector’s total delivered energy use. From 2007 to 2035, renewable energy in the industrial sector around the world will increase by an average of 1.8% per year, and the renewable energy share of total delivered energy in the industrial sector increases to 8% in 2035.

Biomass to remain leader in industrial sector

Biomass for heat and power production currently provides the vast majority of renewable energy consumed in the industrial sector (90%), and it is expected to remain the largest component of the industrial sector’s renewable energy mix through the projection period.

From 2007 to 2035, total world energy consumption will rise by an average annual 1.4%, with 2.2% per annum growth in energy use among non-OECD nations compared with 0.5% in OECD countries.

Petroleum and other liquid fuels remain the largest energy source through 2035, although projected higher oil prices erode their share of total energy use from 35% in 2007 to 30% in 2035.

Global consumption of natural gas increases 1.3% per year and, in the absence of additional policies to limit GHG emissions, coal consumption will increase at 1.6% per year.

About 20% of the world's total delivered energy is used for transportation, most in the form of liquid fuels. The transportation share of world total liquids consumption increases from 53% in 2007 to 61% in 2035 in the reference case, accounting for 87% of the total increase in world liquids consumption.

In the reference case, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rise from 29.7 billion Mt in 2007 to 42.4 bn Mt in 2035, an increase of 43%. Much of this increase in CO2 emissions will occur among developing nations, especially in Asia.