World Use of Renewables Will Rise and Fall

The use of renewable energy around the world will increase by 53 percent between 1999 and 2020. However, its share of global energy consumption will drop from a current level of 9 percent to 8 percent during that time, according to a U.S. government report.

WASHINGTON, DC, US, 2001-03-28 <> The new reference case developed by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts that energy prices over the long term will remain relatively low, which will constrain the expansion of renewable energy and hydroelectricity resources. Much of the growth in renewables over the next two decades is attributed to large-scale hydroelectric projects in the developing world, where China, India, Malaysia, Nepal, Vietnam and other countries are already installing more than 1,000 MW of hydro capacity. The ‘International Energy Outlook 2001’ predicts that overall energy consumption around the world will grow by 59 percent by 2020. Half of that growth will occur in developing nations of Asia and in Central and South America, where strong economic growth will spur demand for energy. It predicts that natural gas will remain the fastest growing component of primary world energy consumption, with use doubling to 162 trillion cubic feet by 2020. Gas will account for 41 percent of the total increment in energy used for electricity generation. Oil will continue to provide the largest single share of world energy consumption, and will retain its 40 percent share by rising from 75 million to 120 million barrels per day during the 20 year forecast period. Global consumption of electricity from nuclear will increase from 2,396 billion kWh in 1999 to 2,636 billion in 2015, before dropping to 2,582 billion kWh by 2020. Most growth will occur in the developing world and the only new reactors are expected to come on line in France and Japan. Total renewable energy use is projected to rise from 33 quadrillion Btu in 1999 to 50 quadrillion in 2020. Hydroelectricity and other renewable energy consumption will grow by 4 percent per year in developing Asia over the projection period, with particularly strong growth projected for China (notably the 18,200 MW Three Gorges Dam project). Among developed countries, wind electricity is enjoying robust growth and several states in the U.S. have adopted renew-able portfolio standards that should help promote strong growth of wind power. Australia is poised to enact legislation that will act as an RPS, and will install more than 1,000 MW of wind. “Renewable energy in Western Europe has been encouraged by a number of government policies and subsidies aimed at increasing the penetration of alternative energy sources,” says the report. By 2010, the EU expects renewable energy sources to contribute 22 percent of all generation among member countries. In North America, hydroelectricity remains the most widely used form of renewable energy, with a total of 175 million W of installed capacity, compared with installed capacity of 19 million kW for geothermal, wind, solar and biomass. EIA predicts that use of renewables in North America will increase by 1.3 percent per year, from 11.1 quadrillion to 14.5 quadrillion Btu in 2020. Total consumption in western Europe will grow by 1.8 percent per year, from 5.6 to 8.2 quadrillion Btu in 2020. In eastern Europe, annual growth will be 5.0 percent. In developing Asia, annual growth of renewables will be 4.0 percent, while it will be 1.4 percent annual growth in Central and South America. Carbon dioxide emissions will grow from 5.8 billion metric tons of carbon equivalent in 1999 to 9.8 billion by 2020. Much of the increase will occur in the developing world,which will account for 76 percent of the projected increase between 1990 and 2020. “Continued heavy reliance on coal and other fossil fuels, as projected for the developing countries, would ensure that even if the industrialized world undertook efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, worldwide emissions would still grow substantially over the forecast horizon,” says the report. EIA is the independent statistical agency of the U.S. Department of Energy. Download the full report in PDF format

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