Renewable energy claims the future

With energy intensity increasing, renewable energies growing rapidly and fossil fuels becoming obsolete, the world’s energy systems are facing a radical transition. These are the findings of the latest report from the World Energy Council.

The World Energy Council presented its report “The Grand Transition” at its conference in Istanbul. The best-case scenario – an economic transition – would see a maximum 22 per cent increase in the world’s energy consumption by 2060, according to the findings.

If the digital revolution takes place sooner than expected, however, energy consumption will increase by 38 per cent. It could increase by as much as 46 per cent if countries do not handle this transition in the energy system in an orderly and coordinated way.

Global energy consumption could as much as double by 2060, according to World Energy Council predictions. Factors such as the electrification of transport, or the digitalisation of economy and society, are increasing the demand for energy. The electricity industry will require investment of between USD 35 billion and USD 43 billion by 2060, warned the report.

Meanwhile, an ever-increasing proportion of electricity consumption is being covered by renewable energies. In the worst-case scenario of a disruptive transition, this proportion will increase from its current four per cent to 20 per cent. In the case of economic transition, it could rise to 39 per cent. In this case, the proportion of fossil fuels would fall from 81 per cent today to 50 per cent.

The proportion of fossil fuels used in mobility would also fall from the current rate of 91 per cent to 60 per cent, in the best-case scenario. Subsequently, the value of fossil resources would fall, with an unforeseen impact on geopolitical balance.

Despite this transition in global energy systems, the World Energy Council does not expect the international goal of keeping global warming to a maximum of two degrees to be attainable. According to the report, even if an economic transition takes place, by 2060 humans will create more C02 than the atmosphere can store without warming by more than two degrees. Uncoordinated action would cause this budget to be broken as early as the 2040s.

Photo credit: Sheila Sund/ CC BY 2.0

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