Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 June 2019

Renewables will provide one third of global energy by 2040, energy agency says

Solar and wind energy are expected to grow considerably and help reduce carbon emissions by 35 per cent

Renewable energy is to play an increasing part in the fight to reduce carbon emissions, a report to be released next month by the International Energy Agency says.

The agency has been tracking the progress of clean energy for the past seven years and has found that solar and wind energy are expected to grow considerably by 2020.

“We saw a flattening of carbon emissions in 2014, which was the first time and hopefully an important milestone,” said David Turk, acting director of sustainability, technology and outlooks at the agency. “The same happened in 2015 and 2016, so the big question is: is this the peak or is this a temporary stalling?”

To ensure emissions drop enough to limit temperature increases to 2C, he said renewables will play a part.

“Renewables will be responsible for this decrease by 35 per cent, efficiency by 40, nuclear by six, fuel switching by five and carbon capture and storage by 14,” he said. “But those in need of accelerated improvement are renewables, transport, nuclear, industry, appliances and lighting, and those that are not on track and need more progress are more efficient coal-fired power, carbon capture and storage, biofuels and buildings.”

Solar and wind electricity generation are expected to grow by 2.5 times and 1.7 times respectively from 2015 to 2020. “There’s been an incredible pace of change in the world,” Mr Turk said. “There’s a lot of hype and news with electric and autonomous vehicles but you could see a rebound effect and energy use in transport could actually double or halve - it’s a huge change policy-makers will have to wrestle with.”

By 2040, one third of electricity will be from wind and solar, with another slice from nuclear. One third of all vehicles will be electric and the global economy will be one third more energy-efficient, according to Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board and founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

“This was unthinkable when I started energy finance 14 years ago,” he said. “But it’s not enough to achieve climate goals. We have to go further before 2040 and continue after 2040.

“The difficult part is that other key sectors like shipping, air travel, industry, agriculture, forestry, energy access and heat will look the same in 2040 as they do now. If that is the case, we can forget 2C, let alone 1.5C. That’s the reality.”

Updated: October 4, 2017 10:41 PM