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Climate change congress: 40% renewables by 2050

The International scientific congress Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges & Decisions has voiced the possibility of 40% of the world’s power coming from renewable energy by 2050 with adequate financial and political support.

However, if such technologies are marginalised, its share is likely to be below 15%, according to research presented by Peter Lund of the Helsinki University of Technology's Advanced Energy Systems, ahead of the congress session Renewable Energies: How Far Can They Take Us?

Previous projections put renewables' share at only 12% by 2030. Other research within the same congress session is said to have further supported the viability of renewables, examining closely the limitations and potential of wind power, biomass and biofuels.

According to Erik Lundtang Petersen of Risø DTU's Wind Energy Department, the wind power industry must focus on efficiently delivering, installing and connecting large amounts of wind power to the grid, with strong concern for reliability, availability and accessibility of the turbines, if the wind sector to deliver its full potential.

“We have identified specific areas of priority for the wind sector to effectively deliver the overall objective of cost reductions," says Petersen. "Research areas including turbine technology, wind energy integration and offshore deployment will be crucial to maximising future growth."

Within biofuels and biomass, research conducted by Jeanette Whitaker of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, UK, found that second generation biofuels, such as ethanol from woody crops and straw, had substantially lower energy requirements and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than first generation biofuels, such as ethanol made from foodstuffs, for example wheat and sugar beet.

"These findings are important and relevant, as the current biofuel debate has centered on the issue of the competing need for crops to be used for food versus fuel," says Whitaker.

The World Wind Energy Association (WWEA), welcomed the news from the congress, but warned that the central prediction of 40% renewables by 2050 “underestimates enormously the actual potentials of renewable energies.”

According to WWEA, any studies and reports, for example by the Energy Watch Group, Stanford University, Greenpeace and others, have shown that renewable energies can provide 100 % of the global energy supply – even beyond electricity – and that this can well be achieved by the year 2050.

The association gives the examples of Denmark, China, Germany, Spain and India, which have already demonstrated the “impressive pace of transition which can be achieved in renewable energy deployment, if the right policies and frameworks are in place.”

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Bioenergy  •  Energy efficiency  •  Energy infrastructure  •  Energy storage including Fuel cells  •  Geothermal  •  Green building  •  Other marine energy and hydropower  •  Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, investment and markets  •  Solar electricity  •  Solar heating and cooling  •  Wave and tidal energy  •  Wind power