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By Robert Rapier on Nov 23, 2008 with no responses

The 2008 IEA WEO – Renewable Energy Highlights

I am working on an essay on the renewable energy portion of the recently released 2008 IEA World Energy Outlook. In Part I, I merely present some of the highlights of the report (actually the notes I jotted down as I read it). Part II will involve more commentary and analysis. Note that these are the IEA projections, and do not necessarily reflect my opinion.

Report Highlights

World energy demand is projected to grow from 11,730 Mtoe (million metric tons of oil equivalents) in 2006 to 17,010 Mtoe in 2030.

Fossil fuels, with oil as the primary source, will account for 80% of energy used in 2030.

China and India will be responsible for over half of the increased energy demand between now and 2030.

Global demand for oil (excluding biofuels) is forecast to rise from 85 million bpd in 2007 to 106 million bpd in 2030. This forecast was revised downward by 10 million bpd since last year’s forecast.

Solar PV has the highest investment cost of all commercially deployed renewable energy sources.

The share of nuclear power in the world energy mix falls from 6% in 2008 to 5% in 2030.

Renewable energy will displace natural gas to become the second largest producer of electrical energy by 2015, but will still lag far behind coal

Carbon dioxide emissions from coal combustion are forecast to rise from 11.7 billion metric tons in 2006 to 18.6 billion metric tons in 2030.

The ability of carbon sequestration to limit carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 is limited.

Biomass, geothermal, and solar thermal are forecast to grow from 6% of total global heating demand in 2006 to 7% in 2030.

Global output of wind power is forecast to grow eleven-fold by 2030, and become the 2nd largest source of renewable electricity (after hydropower) by 2010.

The share of biofuels in road transport fuels is forecast to grow from 1.5% in 2006 to 5% in 2030. Second generation biofuels (e.g., cellulosic ethanol) will make a very small contribution by 2030.

Shortages of water availability are a potential constraint for further expansion of biofuels.

Most biomass will still come from agriculture and forestry residues in 2030, but a growing portion will come from biomass farmed for biofuels.

A growing share of biomass is projected to fuel combined heat and power (CHP) plants.

Latin America and Africa are regions that can boost agricultural production by modernizing farming techniques.

Renewable-based electricity is forecast to grow dramatically. Most of the increase is expected to come from hydro and onshore wind power.

For OECD countries, the increase in renewable electricity is greater than the increase in electricity from fossil fuels and nuclear.

Costs for renewable power expected to continue to fall.

Potential for hydropower in non-OECD countries is still large. Most good sites in OECD countries have been utilized.

Global wind power expected to increase from 130 TWh in 2006 to more than 660 TWh in 2015 to 1,490 TWh in 2030.

Energy storage is rarely the cheapest way of dealing with variability, but several next generation storage technologies are under development. These include ultracapacitors, superconducting magnetic systems, and vanadium redox batteries.

Electrolysis to produce hydrogen, later used in fuel cells on demand is an option, but the overall efficiency is only 40%.

World demand for electricity forecast to rise from 15,665 TWh in 2006 to 28,141 TWh in 2030.

Electricity generation from PV and CSP in 2030 is forecast to be 245 TWh and 107 TWh, respectively.

Geothermal and wave technologies are forecast to produce 180 TWh and 14 TWh in 2030.

Over 860 TWh of electricity from biomass is forecast to be produced in 2030. Present conversion of biomass to electricity is at 20% conversion efficiency.

Biofuels in 2006 provided the equivalent of 0.6 million bpd, representing around 1.5% of global road transport fuel demand. The United States is the largest user of biofuels, and most of the recent growth has been in the U.S.

In 2030, total biofuel supply is expected to be 3.2 million bpd, amounting to only 5% of worldwide demand.

Reference scenario presumes that by 2030 the U.S. will only meet 40% of the biofuel mandate set in 2007.

In Brazil, biofuels are projected to account for 28% of road-transport fuel demand by 2030. The present amount supplied is equivalent to 13% of road-transport fuel demand.

Demand for biodiesel is expected to grow faster than demand for ethanol.

Second generation biofuels based on lignocellulosic biomass, converted via enzyme hydrolysis or biomass gasification (BTL) are expected to become commercially viable. However, the contribution will be minor, and not until after 2020.

Some countries are beginning to scale back their biofuels policies due to concerns about environmental sustainability.

Food prices are being driven by a combination of competition with biofuels, higher energy prices, poor harvests, and various agricultural policies.

The United States and Brazil both export soybean biodiesel to the EU.

Capital costs for cellulosic ethanol are “significantly more” than sugarcane or grain-based facilities. As a result, full commercialization hinges on “major cost reductions.”

There is considerable room for growth of solar water heating (water heating consumes 20% of all residential energy consumption).

China currently has 60% of the world’s installed solar water heating capacity.

Solar water and space heating projected to grow from 7.6 Mtoe in 2006 to 45 Mtoe in 2030.

Cumulative investment in renewable energy between 2007 and 2030 is projected to be $5.5 trillion, with 60% of that for electricity generation.