Business as usual means energy crisis -- Scary statistics from EU

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In 2030, world energy consumption will have doubled, fossil fuels, particularly oil, will still dominate energy demand, renewables will supply 4% of electricity supply -- up from 2% in 2000 -- mainly thanks to growth in wind energy, and carbon dioxide emissions will have doubled from 1990 levels. This is the bleak outlook for the world's energy under a study of "business as usual" growth if economic and technological trends are left to their own devices, by a group of EU researchers.

The report, World Energy, Technology and Climate Policy Outlook (WETO), predicts a huge worldwide energy and environmental crisis unless the right research activities and policies are put in place to cut greenhouse gases and improve uptake of renewables.

The study is by a consortium of research teams including ENERDATA and CNRS-IEPE in France, Belgium's Bureau Federal du Plan and the EU Commission's Joint Research Centre in Spain. It shows that developing countries will account for more than half the world's energy demand compared with 40% today. Likewise, CO2 emissions from developing countries will represent more than 50% of world emissions in 2030, up from 30% in 1990.

CO2 emissions will grow by 18% from 1990 levels in the EU, and by 50% in the US. Nuclear will continue to expand, but not by enough to retain its market share which will slip from 18% in 2000 to 10% in 2030. Wind and solar, on the other hand, will grow by 11% a year, bringing renewables' share of world electricity production to 4% (16% with large hydro and geothermal included). But the report stresses that its predictions do not take account of policies and targets to increase renewables deployment.

EU Commissioner for Research, Phillippe Busquin, who commissioned the study, says the report provides a valuable insight into the world's energy and environmental problems of the future. "To safeguard energy supplies and meet our Kyoto commitments, Europe must intensify its research efforts. The new EU Framework program for research is driving forward initiatives focusing on renewable energy sources, fuel cells and hydrogen technologies." The report "will enable us to establish our future research and technological development priorities in the energy and environment field."

Finance package

Meanwhile, the European parliament has voted for a EUR 200 million package of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures to run from 2003 to 2006. Under Europe's "Intelligent Energy" program, the money will be distributed between four EU funds for energy. The largest chunk -- EUR 80 million -- goes to the ALTENER fund for promotion of new and renewable energy sources, EUR 69.8 million goes to SAVE for improvements in energy efficiency, EUR 32.6 million to STEER for energy in transport and EUR 17.6 million to COOPENER for promotion of renewables and energy efficiency in developing countries.

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