08 June 2010

Renewables revolution to provide 95 per cent of global electricity by 2050

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Greenpeace report argues rollout of existing renewable energy policies will allow world to decouple economic growth and carbon emissions

The world could produce 95 per cent of the electricity it needs from renewable sources by 2050, cutting greenhouse emissions from the energy and transport sectors by 80 per cent without jeopardising economic growth.

That is the conclusion of a major new 260-page report from a coalition of environmental groups that has been orchestrated by Greenpeace. It aims to show that it is economically and technically feasible to cut global greenhouse gas emissions in line with the latest recommendations from climate scientists.

The report, entitled Energy [R]evolution – a sustainable energy outlook, estimates that the transition towards a low-carbon energy infrastructure would require total investments worth $18tn (£12.4tn) by 2030, equivalent to almost five times the US federal budget for 2011.

However, speaking to BusinessGreen.com, report lead author Sven Teske said that the price was affordable and would deliver net economic benefits over the next two decades.

"Under the business-as-usual scenario set out by the International Energy Agency we are going to have to invest at least $11.3tn in energy infrastructure by 2030," he explained. "And the extra money needed for our scenario can be entirely financed through fuel cost savings – $18tn sounds like a lot, but if you look at the investment that will be required anyway, it is not that much extra."

Teske said that under the report's scenario, renewable energy would also be able to compete on price with fossil fuel-based energy by 2020. "The only reason renewable energy is more expensive is that at the moment it is more labour intensive than fossil fuels," he explained, adding that increased investment would create six million new renewable energy jobs by 2020 while ultimately leading to lower energy prices.

(businessGreen)

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