Renewable Energy Could Provide 80 Percent of Global Demand

A solid connection between strong public policy and renewable energy could lead to a much cleaner global energy future.

| May 18, 2011

Sun Catcher

Renewable energy from sources such as the SunCatcher solar dish/Stirling systems could provide the bulk of the world's energy by 2050, according to a U.N. report.


Nearly 80 percent of the global energy supply could be met by renewables by 2050 if backed by the correct public policies, a new United Nations report shows. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, released on May 9, indicates that the rising adoption of renewable energies could lead to cumulative greenhouse gas savings equivalent to 220 to 560 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide between 2010 and 2050. The upper end of the scenarios assessed, representing a cut of around a third in greenhouse gas emissions from business-as-usual projections, could assist in keeping concentrations of greenhouse gases at 450 parts per million.

The report's findings are contained in a summary of the "Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation." The summary is a short version of a roughly a thousand-page comprehensive assessment compiled by more than 120 leading experts from all over the world for the IPCC. The report noted that the substantial increase of renewables is very challenging technically and politically. The six renewable energy technologies reviewed included bioenergy, solar, power, geothermal power, hydropower, ocean energy, and wind energy. More than 160 existing scientific scenarios on the possible use of renewables by 2050 were reviewed.

Reprinted from EERE Network News, a free newsletter of the U.S. Department of Energy. 


7/15/2011 1:12:54 PM

to Mako - you do realize that "renewables" rely on cheap oil and coal to mine the rare earth materials, transport the rare earth materials to factories, construct the complex solar panels/windmills etc, install/service the solar panels/windmills... not to mention distributing the energy using a deteriorated energy grid not equiped to handle load balances from on again off again energy sources... along with a myriad of other problems like 90% of rare earth materials are in China.... but go ahead and keep on praying the god of "renewable" energy...

dave dee
7/12/2011 8:56:55 AM

If the GOP has its way, 100% of energy will come from oil and coal and the average temperature on Earth will be 95 degrees by 2050 and sea level will have risen 35ft, are they a great bunch of humans or what?

7/7/2011 11:58:36 AM

what a joke... 80% of the global energy can come from "renewables"???? I like mother earth news but when are the editors going to wake up to the reality that the free ride provided by cheap oil is OVER. Glad to see the other commentors aren't buying this claptrap. The message should be this: learn to live on less, a lot less.

7/7/2011 11:13:13 AM

I was less than impressed with the UN report when it came out, but didn't comment on its flaws because it had aged off the front page. But, here it is again, the report that boldly trumpets that renewables can provide 80% of our needs. Except that the report itself never really hits the main problems with most renewables: Lack of energy storage and energy that takes more to produce than it provides. The UN report did, very briefly, mention the energy storage issue before careening off to grand plans and dreams. Can you say “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain?” Worse, a conflict of interest has surfaced. You can read more about it here: Whatever one might think of the UN, it wouldn't be wise to put much stock in this report.

t brandt
5/29/2011 11:26:27 PM

a] Unfortunately, the UN is a third-world organization whose goal is to re-direct money from rich nations to poor nations. They lied to us repeatedly in their IPCC report on non-existent "Global Warming" in order to influence the flow of money in the world.[b] Because they are unreliable, we will now tend to ignore them and miss the real problem facing the world's economy: depletion of fossil fuels. [c] At the current level of technology, an area only the size of about 1/3rd the state of AZ could be covered with PV cells to supply the electricity needs of the US- easily done if we used roof-tops and new roofs over parking lots to avoid covering up more natural habitat- but this doesn't allow for population growth or, more importantly, a switch to electric autos. Right now, average consumption in a US household is ~1000kW-hr/month, in Europe ~300kW-hr and in underdeveloped nations <100. We need a life-style change to conserve energy. "Simplify. Simplify. Simplify." -HD Thoreau.

b knight
5/28/2011 3:15:26 PM

This article needs a link to the actual report, not a link back to a generic EERE page that doesn't even reference the IPCC article. Here's the 26 page summary of the report, that talks about the 6 renewable energy sources. and Abbey, try reading the article BEFORE commenting.

abbey bend
5/27/2011 5:05:40 PM

Is this the same United Nations that supports having 25,000 miles of drift net in the oceans 24 hours a day? Get real, the U.N. is just talking trash and has not done anything of worth or value in the entire time it has existed! There estimates are based on fairy dust or something, but not on hard facts!!

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