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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #23)

Sat Oct 12, 2013, 05:30 PM

26. When talking about projections GG's efforts are head-in-the-sand thinking

Head-in-the-sand in this case meaning that when one ignores all other relevant inputs to the calculus the output is destined to be garbage.

The fact of the matter is that conservative forecasts about the progress of alternative energy sources have consistently been, not only wrong, but grossly wrong. Reviewing the issue shows that high renewable growth scenarios have consistently proven to be far more accurate than conservative growth scenarios. (Under 'Fair Use' I've included the excerpt from the free downloadable International Renewable Energy Association's (IRENA) 2013 Global Futures Report. This 76 page non-technical report is
"a pioneering publication that provides access to the range of credible possibilities on the future of renewable energy. The report is based on interviews with over 170 leading experts around the world and the projections of 50 recently published scenarios. The report can serve as a tool for dialogue and discussion on future options, and compliments well the REN21 Renewables Global Status Report.

Available here:

So, in terms of historic credibility, the Greenpeace estimate has far more standing than the EIA.

(pgs 15-17) The world gets about 17–18% of its energy from renewables, including about 9% from “traditional biomass” and about 8% from “modern renewables.”a, b The “traditional” share has been relatively stable for many years, while the “modern” share has grown rap- idly since the late 1990s. During the 1990s, projections of renew- able energy that were considered most credible, for example by the International Energy Agency (IEA), foresaw shares of modern renewables reaching no more than 5–10% into the far future, given the policies and technologies existing at the time. As a result of the market, policy, and technology developments of the past 15 years, those early projections have already been reached.

In 2011, about 30 countries were getting 20% or more of their total energy from renewables, and some as high as 50%.c (The “total energy” metric counts electricity, heating/cooling, and transport.) Countries in this category include Austria, Brazil, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, the Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Uganda, and Uruguay. The European Union (EU) as a whole and the United States both stood at 12%. France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and several other countries were above 10%, and Japan was at 6%. Furthermore, in 2011, about half of all new electric power capacity added worldwide was renewable—as much capacity as fossil and nuclear combined. In interviews, industry experts emphasized that historical thinking and projections about renewable energy remaining a “fringe” techno- logy no longer make sense.

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, as renewable energy started to grow more rapidly than many had predicted, new sce- narios emerged that showed much higher long-term shares of renewables. Notable among these was a “Sustained Growth” scenario by the Shell oil company that showed 50% of global energy from renewables by 2050, a figure that shocked many at the time. The IEA also released a report, Energy to 2050: Scenarios for a Sustainable Future, that outlined a “Sustainable Development” scenario with a 35% share from renewables.

By the mid-2000s, a larger number of scenarios emerged showing 30–50% shares. Prominent among these was the first (2006) edition of the IEA Energy Technology Perspectives (ETP), which gave a set of “Accelerated Technology” scenarios for 2050. In these sce- narios, an intermediate case showed a 24% share, and the highest case showed a 30% share. A few years earlier, the German Advisory Council on Global Change (2004) had published its “Exemplary Path” scenario that projected a 50% share by 2050. And in 2007, the first edition of the Energy [R]evolution scenario by Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) likewise projected a 50% share by 2050

The most recent scenarios, published in 2010–2012, could be viewed in three main groups: “conservative,” “moderate,” and “high renewables.”5 See Figure 1 for the wide variation between groups. (See Annex 2 for a list of the recent global, regional, and national scenarios covered in this report, including full citations correspond- ing to scenario abbreviations used throughout the text, and see the online supplement, “Scenario Profiles Report,” for summaries of these scenarios.)

Conservative scenarios in the 15–20% range can be found pub- lished by oil companies, some industry groups, the IEA, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). For example, BP’s Energy Outlook 2030 (2012) and ExxonMobil’s Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040 (2012) both show an under-15% share by 2030–2040. The EIA (2011) shows 14% by 2035, and the IEA’s World Energy Outlook (WEO, 2012), in its “New Policies” scenario, shows 18% by 2035. Conservative viewpoints by oil and gas companies mirror such conservative scenarios. These companies continue to make state- ments such as “fossil fuels will continue to provide the majority of the world’s energy supplies for decades to come” (Chevron), and “oil’s preeminence in the global energy mix will remain unchallenged in the foreseeable future” (Total).

Moderate scenarios show long-term renewable energy shares in the 25–40% range. Two IEA examples are the IEA WEO (2012) “450” carbon-stabilization scenario, which shows a 27% renewable energy
16 share by 2035, and the IEA ETP (2012) “2DS” scenario, which shows a 41% share by 2050. The IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy (2011) synthesized the results of over 160 climate-mitigation scenarios (most from 2009–2010) and found that over half of them project shares above 27% by 2050—a large group in the “moderate” category.7 (And many show very high absolute amounts of renewables, too, under high global energy demand scenarios; see Box 2.)

High-renewables scenarios project 50–95% energy shares of renewables by 2050. For example, the GEA Global Energy Assessment (2012) shows up to 75% in the highest of its “Efficiency” cases and a median share of 55%. The “ACES” scenario by the IEA multilateral program Renewable Energy Technology Deployment (2010) shows 55%. And among the group of 160 scenarios surveyed by the IPCC (2011), there are a number in the range of 50–80%. The biennial Greenpeace Energy [R]evolution scenario, which has become the most widely recognized and thorough projection made by renew- able energy advocates, shows 82%.a At the highest end, WWF (2011) shows a 95% share.8
The credibility of such high-renewables scenarios has increased over the years, following a long tradition of “100%” scenarios dating back to the 1970s by renewable energy advocates and visionaries. The difference is that now, given the scope of government policy targets and market growth in recent years, such high-renewables scenarios are grounded in growing present-day markets.9 (See Endnote 9 for further discussion of “credibility” in the context of scenarios.)

In interviews, most industry experts believed that the world could reach at least 30–50% shares of renewables in the long term. (See also Box 3 for a recent global goal of 30–35%.) And some experts advocated for 100% or near-100% futures. European experts cited considerably higher shares just for Europe (see following section), with many saying that Europe could attain 50–70% shares.10 (Also see following sections for more expert opinions based on individual sectors.)

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LineLineLineLineLineLineLineReply When talking about projections GG's efforts are head-in-the-sand thinking
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