You are here: Home Knowledge Base Environment The Energy Crisis and Climate Change Proposals The Energy Crisis and Climate Change
Symposium 2009

Proposal - The Energy Crisis and Climate Change

The Challenge

The future global economy is likely to consume ever more energy, especially with the rising energy demand of developing countries such as China and India. At the same time, the tremendous risk of cl ...

The future global economy is likely to consume ever more energy, especially with the rising energy demand of developing countries such as China and India. At the same time, the tremendous risk of climate change associated with the use of fossil fuels makes supplying this energy increasingly difficult.

A solution for the future global energy problem should be based on the hard reality that global energy demand is likely to be expanded substantially in the short- to medium-term future due to population and economic growth. Only a mix of different means, rather than a single formula, would solve the problem, and the solutions should reflect regional conditions.

Renewable energies
Renewable energies are a key element in this solution portfolio. Wind power is already being installed at a growing rate globally and has a large potential in places such as China, India and the US, as well as in Europe. Together, the use of wind power could be expanded tenfold by 2030 with an increasing share of offshore instalments. Wind power may become the second most important renewable energy for electricity generation after hydropower. Tidal and geothermal power would play a role in some countries, such as China, Russia, the US, and a part of Europe. The use of hydropower, including the one from large-scale dams, should be doubled by 2030. Installations in non-OECD Asia would be important given its increasing energy needs. Concentrating solar thermal power is an opportunity for sunny developing countries near the equator. While concentrating solar thermal power has been tested in Europe, Australia and the USA so far, projects in China, Iran, Jordan and Malta are planned. The role of solar photovoltaics would still be small but could have some importance in remote sunny regions, particularly for specific purposes such as air-conditioning. Renewable heating (solar, geothermal, biomass) could be harnessed in a large scale at low costs in China.

Non-renewable energies
Nuclear energy capacities could be doubled by 2030. Also, we would need to continue using coal power generation by a large scale, allowing non-OECD countries to keep the size of production at least at the current level. In parallel, coal power generation should be downsized in the developed regions, and remaining facilities should be scrapped even before the end of lifetime and be rebuilt with CCS equipment.

Energy infrastructure
Based on this energy portfolio, the solution for the energy problem at second depends on energy transport and storage solutions such as hydrogen. They would be a crucial step towards a globally connected energy system matching energy supply and demand over space and time.

Such a shift of energy infrastructure requires a great amount of investment, a majority of which should take place in developing countries (The IEA estimates the amount of investment should be $1.2 trillion globally by 2030, which is on an annual basis (around $50 billion) about half the size of world’s total official foreign aid (approximately $100 billion)). Pricing schemes of emissions, such as tax, cap-and-trade systems, or a combination of these, are basic instruments to achieve this goal. Herein, the current financial crisis offers an opportunity to direct private and public investment into energy efficiency improvements, for instance within stimulus packages. Given the increasing demand for energy in developing countries, a particular focus should fall on efforts to transfer technologies to these countries, as the infrastructure built in these countries now will help define the energy mix in these countries for the next 30-40 years. In particular, mechanisms allowing flexibility on cross-region burden sharing such as CDM should be strengthened. As a supplement, additional public financing schemes, such as the World Bank technology fund, can play an important role. When applied in countries with weak legal institutions, they would reduce business risks of energy-related foreign direct investment, which is likely to lead to a faster transfer of energy-efficient technologies. At the same time, the enforcement of intellectual property rights may be relaxed internationally to promote the diffusion of emission-saving technologies. Finally, substantial public R&D would also be needed since some promising energy technologies are still in infancy.

    Related Proposals

    Proposal
    Symposium 2009

    The Energy Shift and Its Impact on Global Climate Change

    The unprecedented volatility in energy prices of the last few years, and the policy imperative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, have produced deep uncertainty about the future of energy, and especi ...

    The unprecedented volatility in energy prices of the last few years, and the policy imperative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, have produced deep uncertainty about the future of energy, and especially about the future of fossil fuels. A broad shift toward lower-carbon alternatives is now well under way, but on its current path, is happening too slowly to achieve the reductions in emissions that scientists consider essential to slow the pace of global warming. Energy prices will continue to be volatile, due to the inherent lags in bringing new capacity on line in a time of sharp shifts in

    Polity, Business
    Proposal
    Symposium 2009

    The Barefoot College

    (Complete Version including figures can be found in the Virtual Library.) The Barefoot College is the ONLY fully Solar Electrified College based in a village in India. 45 Kws of solar panels and 5 Bat ...

    (Complete Version including figures can be found in the Virtual Library.) The Barefoot College is the ONLY fully Solar Electrified College based in a village in India. 45 Kws of solar panels and 5 Battery banks of 136 deep cycle batteries have been installed by semi-literate barefoot solar engineers. The solar components (invertors, charge controllers, battery boxes, stands) are all fabricated in the College itself. Provides power to run 30 computers, E-mail, 500 tube lights, 70 fans, photocopying machine, VCRs, camcorders, pathology Lab, dining hall, a 40,000 book Library, dentist chair, film editing machine, slide projectors, and battery chargers.

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society
    Proposal
    Symposium 2009

    The Energy Crisis and Climate Change

    The term ‘energy crisis’ is used quite loosely so it pays to be clear about what’s under discussion. Broadly speaking the term poses three distinct questions: Will we run out of energy? We rely ...

    The term ‘energy crisis’ is used quite loosely so it pays to be clear about what’s under discussion. Broadly speaking the term poses three distinct questions: Will we run out of energy? We rely on coal, oil and gas (the fossil fuels) for over 80% of our current energy needs – a situation which shows little sign of changing over the medium-term without drastic policy changes. On top of this energy demand is expected to grow by almost half over the next two decades. Understandably this is causing some fear that our energy resources are starting to run out, with

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society
    Proposal
    Symposium 2009

    Climate protection without blinkers: an intelligent mix of fossil and renewable energies

    Energy research must abstain from pigeonholing energies as fundamentally good or bad, from saying “renewable energies are automatically good and fossil energies are bad”. That is a dead-end street ...

    Energy research must abstain from pigeonholing energies as fundamentally good or bad, from saying “renewable energies are automatically good and fossil energies are bad”. That is a dead-end street in which we cannot afford to linger. We need a candid review of climate and energy policy – without blinkers and illusions. Real sustainability requires a balance between economic and ecological considerations, not an ecological fantasy world. In order to reconcile the interests of climate protection, supply security and market competition, we need an intelligent mix of renewable and fossil energies – and a global strategy which can be

    Polity, Business
    Proposal
    Symposium 2009

    Cheap Clean

    Expensive technology, even if it yields clean energy, cannot solve the challenge of global warming. Any solution, to be viable, must be low enough in cost that the world can afford to implement it wid ...

    Expensive technology, even if it yields clean energy, cannot solve the challenge of global warming. Any solution, to be viable, must be low enough in cost that the world can afford to implement it widely. Indeed, it is likely that the only technologies that are sustainable are those that are beyond cheap – those that are profitable. The reason for this conclusion is a key fact that underlies the IPCC projections of global warming: the predicted rise in temperature is tightly linked to the end of poverty in the developing world. Economic progress in the developing world has been

    Polity, Academia, Business