9 may 2011

New IPCC report reveals: Renewable energy is indispensable to avoiding climate change

From Patricia Cuonzo at Greenpeace [via email]

No limit on renewable energy potential, technology or costs – the barrier is policy

Abu Dhabi, 9th May 2011: Just 2.5% of viable renewable energy sources could provide up to 80% of world energy demand by 2050 with currently available technologies, according to a new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources (SRREN) also highlights the potential of renewable energy to play the key role in mitigating climate change and increasing energy access, equity and security. However, there are significant energy policy barriers, which need to be removed in order to unlock the full potential of renewable energies the report concluded.

Sven Teske, Renewable Energy Director from Greenpeace International, and one of the lead authors of the report said: “This is an invitation to governments to initiate a radical overhaul of their policies and place renewable energy centre stage. On the run up to the next major climate conference, COP17 in South Africa in December, the onus is clearly on governments to step up to the mark.”

“The IPCC report shows overwhelming scientific evidence that renewable energy can also meet the growing demand of developing countries, where over two billion people lack access to basic energy services . And it can do so at a more cost competitive and faster rate than conventional energy sources. Governments have to kick start the energy revolution by implementing renewable energy laws across the globe,” Teske said.
The Energy [R]evolution scenario – a joint project of Greenpeace International, the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) and the German Space Agency (DLR) was chosen as one of the lead scenarios of the report. Since the first edition was launched in 2005, Greenpeace has published the Energy [R]evolution in over 40 countries and developed national scenarios, as well as three editions of its global version.

For more information: Sven Teske in Abu Dhabi: +49 171 8787552, Caroline Chisholm – media contact – in Amsterdam +31 646 162018 or

Notes for editors:
About the report
The Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources (SSREN) is an analysis of the literature available on renewable energy sources, and its scientific, technological, environmental, economic and social impact on mitigating climate change. Produced by 120 researchers working with the International Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the report focuses on six renewable technologies: Bioenergy, Direct Solar Energy, Geothermal Energy, Hydropower, Ocean Energy and Wind Energy. The report consists of a 900 page document, supported by a 30 page summary for policy makers.

What are the main outcomes?
Identifying Drivers and Solutions for a Low Carbon Economy
• Energy access is fundamental for social and economic development as well as welfare and equity needs.
• Sustainable energy development needs secure services with low environmental impacts.
• GHG emissions from traditional energy sources are a major cause of climate change.
Renewable energy Technologies and Markets
• Renewable energy now accounts for 12.9% of global energy supply (2008).
• Renewable energy development is increasing rapidly.
• The potential of renewables is greater than market demand by a factor of at least 20
• Renewable energy is becoming increasingly cost competitive.
• Renewable technologies become cost competitive within the next year or are already cost competitive with conventional energy systems e.g.
o Solar photovoltaic will reach grid parity within the next 3 years in many industrialized countries
o Wind power is already cost competitive with new coal power plants in good wind locations
Integrating renewable energy into present and future energy systems
• Renewable energy is already being integrated into existing grids.
• Energy systems will need to evolve to accommodate higher shares of renewable energy.
Sustainable development
• Renewable energy has a pivotal role to play in sustainable economic development.
• Renewable energy will increase access to energy and provide greater energy security.
Mitigation potential and costs
• Renewable energy has huge potential to mitigate GHG emissions: between 2010 and 2050 up to 560 Gigatonnes CO2 can be saved.
• Most scenarios predict a substantial increase in renewable energy over the next decades.
• Renewable energy will expand without efforts to address climate change.
• Renewable energy growth will be a global phenomenon.

Scenario analysis
• Over 160 energy scenarios have been reviewed to explore the possible deployment rate of renewable energies by 2050 as well as the social and environmental impacts.
• Four global energy scenarios have been analyzed in-depth – the IEA World Energy Outlook 2009 as a baseline scenario and three climate mitigation scenarios – one of them is the Energy [R]evolution 2010 scenario published by Greenpeace International, the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) and the German Space Agency (DLR).
• Even the most ambitious renewable energy scenario used only 2.5% of the globally available renewable energy potential by 2050.
• Renewable energy could supply as much as 77% of the world’s energy demand by 2050, (360 Exajoules per year) according to the most ambitious scenario.
• Even without new renewable policies, the market share of renewables is likely to increase considerably as costs fall and demand for energy grows.
Policy and Implementation
• The growth and variety of renewable energy policies is helping to drive growth.
• Future renewable energy growth will require additional policies to attract investment.

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