By 2100, 15% of world energy consumption will come from oil, gas, coal and nuclear, while solar thermal and photovoltaic will supply 70%, according to the World Energy Council.
“Key elements of the long-term scenario are the energy efficiency and energy intensity policies that will make the contribution of renewable and solar energy a substantial factor,” it explains in the 2007 Survey of Energy Resources. “Those policies will deeply transform the building and construction, industry and transport sectors, increasing their reliance on renewable energy resources.”
The transition towards renewables has already started, and the report reviews status and rate of growth of the major solar energy technologies, their technical and market maturity as well as institutional and governmental policies and approaches to promote their integration into the world’s energy systems. The document complements the BP Statistical Review and IEA’s World Energy Outlook, and details 16 energy resources with the latest data provided by 94 WEC member committees.
Coal is plentiful and economically recoverable in 70 countries, and demand is expected to continue to grow with strongest growth in developing countries. The proved recoverable reserves for oil are 117 billion barrels higher than 2002 and “oil will not run out for many years,” it explains.
The proved reserves of natural gas grew 3.5% by 2005 over 2002 estimates, and present production levels equal 56 year of supply from proved resources. Reasonably assured resources for uranium have grown 4% over the past three years and there has been a ten-fold price increase since 2000.Renewables provide one-fifth of power generation, of which hydro contributes 87% of all renewables with only one-third of its potential developed. Wind has grown rapidly, with capacity doubling every 3.5 years, while solar thermal, PV and passive solar have “great potential,” although marine energies have yet to be developed fully although wave resource alone are estimated to be 10 TW of capacity.
“Energy demand will grow significantly over the coming years and is foreseen to double by 2050,” explains Gerald Doucet of WEC. “This recent update on available energy resources proves that there is sufficient amount in place to meet the demand if all energy options are kept open.”
“Less-energy-intensive economies, stringent pressures to reduce the environmental impact of fossil fuels, and political and fiscal measures to increase the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, have gradually combined to alter the growth prospects of each of the primary energies, and, consequently, their respective weight in the energy balance,” the report explains. “In the longer run (beyond 2020), nuclear power remains in the forefront ... renewable sources will also undoubtedly draw increasing attention, as shown by the political and fiscal measures implemented in a large number of OECD countries.”
“Wave energy is currently an immature technology, without a clear consensus on which are eventually likely to prove the successful devices,” the report explains. “Bioenergy is arguably the one truly renewable energy resource” and “although geothermal energy is conventionally classed as a renewable energy resource, and even as a ‘new renewable’, it is not such a clearcut example of a perpetual source of energy as are solar, wind and marine energy.”