Clean Energy Could See Explosive Growth by 2023, IEA Report Claims

Illustration for article titled Clean Energy Could See Explosive Growth by 2023, IEA Report Claims
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The release of a damning report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change this week predicting unprecedented climate disaster within the next decade was no doubt a sobering reminder of the fragile state of our planet. But new forecasts from the International Energy Agency (IEA) for the future of global renewable energy capacity offers a far more hopeful picture, predicting a massive spike in clean energy over the next five years—if, that is, necessary policy and regulation are acted upon now.

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In an October 8 press release on its Renewables 2018 report, the IEA highlighted modern bioenergy—which the International Renewable Energy Agency describes as including liquid biofuels produced from plants, biogas produced by anaerobic digestion, and wood pellet heating systems, which is of particular importance for industries—as having the potential for the greatest growth in renewable resources between now and 2023. The IEA also noted the importance of modern bioenergy in developing “a robust renewable portfolio and ensuring a more secure and sustainable energy system.”

“Modern bioenergy is the overlooked giant of the renewable energy field,” the IEA’s executive director Dr. Fatih Birol said in a statement. “Its share in the world’s total renewables consumption is about 50% today, in other words as much as hydro, wind, solar and all other renewables combined. We expect modern bioenergy will continue to lead the field, and has huge prospects for further growth.”

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What’s more, Bloomberg reported Sunday that one forecast scenario from the report could see “as much as an extra 1.3 terawatts of clean energy” being installed by 2023. Part of this predicted renewable energy boom is thanks to solar power, for which the Renewables report states:

Solar PV capacity is forecast to expand by almost 600 GW – more than all other renewable power technologies combined, or as much as twice Japan’s total capacity, reaching 1 terawatt (TW) by the end of the forecast period. Despite recent policy changes, China remains the absolute solar PV leader by far, holding almost 40% of global installed PV capacity in 2023. The United States remains the second-largest growth market for solar PV, followed by India, whose capacity quadruples . [sic]

If all this sounds great, the report does underscore the importance of “appropriate policies and market design” as paramount to the success of continued renewable energy growth. As Birol noted in his statement on the report, “[T]he right policies and rigorous sustainability regulations will be essential to meet its full potential.”

Gizmodo reached out to IEA for comment and will update this report should we hear back.

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[Bloomberg via IEA]

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DISCUSSION

dnapl
Dense non aqueous phase liquid

Nicely written.

Biofuels in the US consists mostly of fuel ethanol from corn. Ignoring all the environmental problems with using half the field corn in the US for motor fuel, you have to admire ethanol’s progress. Ethanol has replace 10 percent of the gasoline that’s burned. Sadly, we’re exporting a lot of gasoline to Mexico, South America and the world as a result of Bt, no-till, close planting corn for ethanol.

The EIA figure below is for US renewables production including biofuels, hydro, wind, solar and geothermal. Please don’t confuse the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) which sits under DoE with the International Energy Agency (IEA). The author is spot on. At least here in ‘Merica.

The thing about biofuels is that production (plant growth) and consumption (combustion) is part of the short carbon cycle. For corn ethanol this would be the seasonal growth/death photosynthesis cycle. For farmed trees this cycle would be around 20 years or so. So if wood were to be pelletized and used for heat (steam generation) the shorter life cycle of the plant the better. Say hemp instead of southern pine.

When we talk global warming we’re mostly worried about carbon dioxide (and methane) from fossil fuels based carbon. Carbon that had been sequestered in the subsurface between 30 million years (say tar sands) and 350 to 400 million years (eastern shales producing gas and oil from dead shit of the carboniferous period). So it’s alright to burn short cycle plants, including algae. To a degree.

Biofuels for transportation greatest advantage is there’s really no switch in present technology (planes, trains and automobiles). It’s just a fuel switch.

Then again, there environmental problems with ethanol and biodiesel (soybean) as it’s being produces are almost endless. So that’s another topic.

However, the real magic of ethanol is that both Senators Grassley of Iowa and Durbin of Illinois are BFFs when it comes to making the corn belt great again. Common ground, motherfuckers.