Notable successes in deployment of clean-energy technologies
are being overshadowed by continued hunger for fossil fuels, report
Abu Dhabi, 06 April 2011 - The International
Energy Agency on Wednesday released its first Clean Energy Progress
Report, which assesses global deployment of clean energy
technologies and provides recommendations to countries on future
action and spending.
The report was presented on 6 April in Abu Dhabi at the second
Clean Energy Ministerial meeting. The report finds that while
impressive progress has been made in developing clean energy
technologies in recent years, the success stories are being
overshadowed by surging demand for fossil fuels, which are
outstripping deployment of clean energy technologies.
Coal has met 47% of the global new electricity demand over the
past decade, eclipsing clean energy efforts made over the same
period of time, which include improved implementation of energy
efficiency measures and rapid growth in the use of renewable energy
In order to change this status quo, the IEA argues that more
aggressive clean energy policies are required, including the
removal of fossil fuel subsidies and the implementation of
transparent, predictable and adaptive incentives for cleaner energy
Ambassador Richard Jones, Deputy Executive Director of the
International Energy Agency, presented the report to the ministers
gathered in Abu Dhabi. Jones said the world's dependence on fossil
fuels is posing short-term risks to political stability and
economic activity and is threatening environmental
"Despite countries' best efforts, the world is coming ever
closer to missing targets that we believe are essential for meeting
the goal agreed in Cancun to limit the growth in global average
temperatures to less than 2 degrees Celsius." Jones said.
"A number of countries have shown that achieving rapid
transition to cleaner technologies is possible, and can be done
from the bottom up. We must see more ambitious, effective policies
that respond to market signals while providing long-term,
predictable support," Jones added.
The Clean Energy Progress Report provides an overview of key
policy developments, public spending on research, development,
demonstration and deployment of clean energy technologies -
including renewable energy, energy efficiency, electric vehicles,
nuclear power, biofuels and CO2 capture and storage (CCS) - and
their global deployment status.
Despite the persistent use of coal, the report notes that policy
support over the last decade has led to a positive rise in
The report cites solar and wind power as two areas where
remarkable developments have been made.
"In the case of solar energy, at least ten countries now have
sizeable domestic markets, up from just three in 2000," the authors
observe. "Wind power also experienced dramatic growth over the last
decade; global installed capacity at the end of 2010 was around 194
Gigawatts, more than ten times the 17 Gigawatts that was in place
at the end of the year in 2000."
Despite this, and other progress with renewable sources of
energy, the report states that worldwide renewable electricity
generation since 1990 grew an average of 2.7% per year, which is
less than the 3% growth seen for total electricity generation.
Consequently, "achieving the goal of halving global
energy-related CO2 emissions by 2050 will require a doubling of all
renewable generation use by 2020 from today's level."
Tackling fossil fuels
In order to address the world's heavy reliance on fossil fuels,
particularly coal, the report stresses the importance of raising
the efficiency of existing and new coal-fired plants.
"Switching to less carbon-intensive fuels (e.g. from coal to
natural gas) and improving the efficiency of coal plants will
achieve significant reductions in CO2 and should be a top
priority," the authors write.
However, for deep cuts in carbon emissions this is not enough,
they emphasise, adding: "Extensive deployment of CCS is critical to
achieve climate change goals."
In order to achieve a 50% reduction in energy-related CO2
emissions by 2050, IEA research shows that around 100 large-scale
CCS projects will be needed by 2020, and over 3,000 by 2050. "This
represents a significant scale-up from the five large-scale CCS
projects that are in operation today."
While there are over 70 CCS projects currently planned, the
report says it is uncertain how many will be realised because of
recent delays in allocating public funding.
Advancing electric vehicles
The report also urges governments to do more to assist the
introduction of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, which are
emerging as an area of intensive activity. During 2011, thousands
of such vehicles will hit the streets in most major economies, and
rapid growth is expected: national plans target a combined EV sales
of 7 million sales in 2020, which would mean over 20 million such
vehicles on the road by that year.
The report says that in order for electric vehicles to succeed,
governments must commit to building sustained markets that last for
at least the next 10 years.
This commitment should include price incentives for consumers
(and adequate and stable funding to pay for these incentives over
at least the next five years, followed by a phase-out period);
support for construction of adequate recharging infrastructure;
cooperation with cities to ensure cohesive urban, regional and
national systems; funding for RD&D; and consumer education
The new Electric Vehicles Initiative (formed at the CEM in July
2010) will help countries coordinate these types of activities.
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) - Carbon
capture and storage (CCS) is a group of technologies used to reduce
CO2 emissions from large CO2 sources such as fossil fuel or biomass
power generation and industrial processes such as cement, iron and
steel and fertilizer manufacturing. Following the capture of CO2 it
is then transported and stored in specifically selected and
characterised geological formations over 1000m below the ground.
Parts of the CCS chain have been used in industry for many decades
however the complete process has only been demonstrated at a
commercial scale at five locations around the world.
Energy efficiency - Something is more energy
efficient if it delivers more services for the same energy input,
or the same services for less energy input. For example, when a
compact florescent light (CFL) bulb uses less energy than an
incandescent bulb to produce the same amount of light, the CFL is
considered to be more energy efficient.
Subsidies - The IEA defines an energy subsidy
as any government action directed primarily at the energy sector
that lowers the cost of energy production, raises the price
received by energy producers or lowers the price paid by energy
The full Clean Energy Progress Report is available
here for download