UN Radical Study Rocks Renewables

Cleaner air on the horizon.

Imagine 80% of world energy supplied by renewable technologies! More than 120 leading experts now agree that this is a  realistic possiblility within 39 years,  according to an impressive, 1000-page UN study published last week. 

A few highlights from the study :

Of the 300 gigawatts (GW) of new electricity generating capacity added globally in 2008 – 2009,  140 GW or 47% came from renewables. 

Despite macro economic distress world-wide, renewable energy capacity grew in 2009:

  • wind by >30%
  • hydropower by 3%;
  • grid-connected photovoltaics by >50%;
  • geothermal by 4%;
  • solar water/heating by >20% and
  • ethanol and biodiesel production +10% and 9%, respectively.

Developing countries command more than 50% of world renewable energy capacity. 

Less than 2.5% of the globally available technical potential for renewables is used — in other words,  over 97% of renewable energy resources are under-employed.  Insufficient supply of technology is therefore not a limiting factor. 

While the report was clear that lots more has to be done to make this 80% level attainable (infrastructure growth and government policy), the trend is accelerating in that direction.

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