The International Energy Agency has released its first Clean Energy Progress Report, which assesses global deployment of clean energy technologies and provides recommendations to countries on future action and spending. The report finds that while impressive progress has been made in developing clean energy technologies in recent years, the success stories are being overshadowed by surging demand for fossil fuels, which are outstripping deployment of clean energy technologies.
Coal has met 47% of the global new electricity demand over the past decade, eclipsing clean energy efforts made over the same period of time, which include improved implementation of energy efficiency measures and rapid growth in the use of renewable energy sources.
In order to change this status quo, the IEA argues that more aggressive clean energy policies are required, including the removal of fossil fuel subsidies and the implementation of transparent, predictable and adaptive incentives for cleaner energy options.
“Despite countries’ best efforts, the world is coming ever closer to missing targets that we believe are essential for meeting the goal agreed in Cancun to limit the growth in global average temperatures to less than 2 degrees Celsius,” points out Richard Jones, deputy executive director of the International Energy Agency. “A number of countries have shown that achieving rapid transition to cleaner technologies is possible, and can be done from the bottom up. We must see more ambitious, effective policies that respond to market signals while providing long-term, predictable support.”
Despite the persistent use of coal, the report notes that policy support over the last decade has led to a positive rise in renewable energy. The report cites solar and wind power as two areas where remarkable developments have been made.
In the case of solar energy, at least ten countries now have sizeable domestic markets, up from just three in 2000. Wind power also experienced dramatic growth over the last decade; global installed capacity at the end of 2010 was around 194 Gigawatts, more than ten times the 17 Gigawatts that were in place at the end of the year in 2000.
Despite this, and other progress with renewable sources of energy, the report states that worldwide renewable electricity generation since 1990 grew an average of 2.7% per year, which is less than the 3% growth seen for total electricity generation. Consequently, achieving the goal of halving global energy-related CO2 emissions by 2050 will require a doubling of all renewable generation use by 2020 from today’s level.