Bioenergy, Geothermal, Hydropower, Solar, Wind Power

World Energy Group Wants a Drop in the Cost of Renewables

The cost of renewable energy must fall so that it can compete with fossil fuels, according to the latest global review of energy by the Paris-based International Energy Agency.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, AR, 2001-11-07 [] The world has sufficient energy reserves to meet its needs for the next 20 years and for decades beyond, but supply is not guaranteed, warns the IEA in its ‘World Energy Outlook 2001 Insights.’ To meet the challenge of exploiting these energy reserves, massive investments will be required in infrastructure and technology. Although the report is designed to be neutral about different energy sources, it does pay particular attention to renewable energies. It says several technologies are on the verge of becoming commercially competitive, and others have the potential to do so. The report urges increased public and private support for renewables research and development, and for their wider deployment. Prepared by 15 analysts from IEA member countries and reviewed extensively by outside experts, the 421 page study considers all forms of energy from biomass made of corn stubble, to nuclear fission and fusion. It projects developments in each fuel under varying price and cost scenarios, and probes new technologies that will help to discover more reserves, render energy use more efficient and reduce energy-related damage to the world environment. Mature oil reservoirs in OECD countries will soon peak and decline, it warns, and consumers will grow increasingly dependent on a small number of oil suppliers in the Middle East. Massive infrastructure additions are needed to bring natural gas to market and to burn the world’s ample supplies of coal more cleanly. Fears about plant safety and waste disposal still inhibit the use of nuclear energy. In its final chapter, the study considers energy development in the years beyond 2020, and sketches a vision in which new technologies and infrastructure will transform the energy world. Better mining and manufacturing techniques will expand the availability of fossil fuels, and other technologies will have sharply reduced their noxious side effects. Some, if not all, renewable energies will have entered the marketplace and will be deployed world-wide. Diversification of supply, both geographically and by the use of a wider spectrum of fuels, will have produced a much more secure energy world. The book is “much too rich to sum up in a few words but, at the same time, it conveys a very clear message,” says IEA executive director Robert Priddle. “We have absolutely no reason to worry about running out of energy in the coming decades.” “All of us, producers and consumers alike, face some daunting short-term challenges,” he notes. “The energy resources to fuel the world’s economy are in place, but to exploit them efficiently and sustainably, vast amounts of capital must be mobilized to locate, develop and deliver energy to the markets where it is needed.” The IEA was formed in 1974 in the wake of the oil crisis, to help its 25 member nations cope with disruptions in energy markets. Since its inception, the agency has broadened its activities to include the promotion of energy efficiency and benign energy sources, as well as other energy-related tasks.