World Energy report sees greatest expansion of renewables in China

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The greatest expansion of renewable energy in the world happened in China, as well as the most significant energy savings, according to a report released today (Tuesday) by the World Bank, the International Energy Agency, and 13 other agencies. The research team was headed by the World Bank and supported by the World Energy Council (WEC).

The report, titled "The sustainable energy for all global tracking framework", identified twenty high-impact countries, which together consume 80% of the global energy. These are countries such as China and India. The WEC call on these countries to "lead the way" and boost the share of renewables in their respective energy mix.

In 2010, renewable energy accounted to 18% of the global energy mix, but according to WEC it should double to 36% of the global energy mix.

The goal of the report is to monitor the progress achieved so far with respect to the objectives set by the "Sustainable energy for all initiative", launched in 2011 by the United Nations. The initiative’s three main goals are to achieve universal electricity access, double renewable energy in the global energy mix and double energy efficiency by 2030.

More investment needed

In order to achieve these challenging goals, "a comprehensive package of policy measures, including fiscal, financial and economic incentives, phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, and pricing of carbon" are needed, the statement said.

Vivien Foster, energy sector manager at the World Bank, called on all countries around the world, private sector investors and international organizations to increase investment in the energy sector. She said that to meet the current objectives, at least $600 billion a year until 2030 is needed. At present, an estimated $409 billion are being spent yearly in this sector.

Part of the extra investment would go to the following segments: $174 billion for renewable energy, $45 billion for electricity expansion, $394 billion in energy efficiency and $4.4 billion to modernize cooking.

Access to electricity

Moreover, throughout the world, a total of 1.2 billion people do not have access to electricity, the statement said. About 80 % of those without access to electricity live in rural areas. Although progress has been made during the last 20 years – 1.7 billion now have electricity at home – it has not increased as fast as population growth has. Between 1990 and 2010, global population grew 1.6 billion.

In terms of access to energy efficiency, 20 countries in Asia and Africa account for three-quarters of those who use solid fuels-wood, charcoal, animal and crop waste, and coal-to cook or heat their homes.

According to the statement, progress has been made but much more will have to be done to meet the UN’s ambitious goals. "The global energy system is undergoing arguably the biggest transformation in modern history and bold policy measures will be required to enable the energy sector to deliver on this challenge," Christoph Frei, Secretary General of the World Energy Council said in the statement.

The WEC is a UN-accredited global energy body, composed by more than 3000 members. Over 90 countries are members, as well as private and state corporations, academia, NGOs and energy-related stakeholders.

The report was coauthored by the World Bank and its Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) and the International Energy Agency, as well as 13 other agencies, such as the International Renewable Energy Agency and United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), among others.