Energy Blue Print
Archive 2007

Moving from principles to action for energy supply that mitigates against climate change requires a long-term perspective. Energy infrastructure takes time to build up; new energy technologies take time to develop. Policy shifts often also need many years to take effect. In most world regions the transformation from fossil to renewable energies will require additional investment and higher supply costs over about twenty years

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Development of global electricity demand by sector

Under the energy [r]evolution scenario, electricity demand is expected to increase disproportionately, with households and services the main source of growing consumption (see Figure 18).With the exploitation of efficiency measures, however, an even higher increase can be avoided, leading to electricity demand of around 26,000 TWh/a in the year 2050. Compared to the reference scenario, efficiency measures avoid the generation of about 13,000 TWh/a.This reduction in energy demand can be achieved in particular by introducing highly efficient electronic devices using the best available technology in all demand sectors. Introduction of passive solar design in both residential and commercial buildings will help to curb the growing demand for active air-conditioning.

electricity generation

The development of the electricity supply sector is characterised by a dynamically growing renewable energy market and an increasing share of renewable electricity.This will compensate for the phasing out of nuclear energy and reduce the number of fossil fuel-fired power plants required for grid stabilisation. By 2050, 70% of the electricity produced worldwide will come from renewable energy sources. ‘New’ renewables – mainly wind, solar thermal energy and PV – will contribute 42% of electricity generation.The following strategy paves the way for a future renewable energy supply:

  • The phasing out of nuclear energy and rising electricity demand will be met initially by bringing into operation new highly efficient gasfired combined-cycle power plants, plus an increasing capacity of wind turbines and biomass. In the long term, wind will be the most important single source of electricity generation.
  • Solar energy, hydro and biomass will make substantial contributions to electricity generation. In particular, as non-fluctuating renewable energy sources, hydro and solar thermal, combined with efficient heat storage, are important elements in the overall generation mix.
  • The installed capacity of renewable energy technologies will grow from the current 800 GW to 7,100 GW in 2050. Increasing renewable capacity by a factor of nine within the next 43 years requires political support and well-designed policy instruments, however.There will be a considerable demand for investment in new production capacity over the next 20 years. As investment cycles in the power sector are long, decisions on restructuring the world’s energy supply system need to be taken now.

To achieve an economically attractive growth in renewable energy sources, a balanced and timely mobilisation of all technologies is of great importance.This mobilisation depends on technical potentials, cost reduction and technological maturity. Figure 22 shows the comparative evolution of the different renewable technologies over time. Up to 2020, hydro-power and wind will remain the main contributors to the growing market share. After 2020, the continuing growth of wind will be complemented by electricity from biomass, photovoltaics and solar thermal (CSP) energy.