Renewable Energy Status and Prospects Status of Electricity Generation from Renewable Energy

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Abstract By 2050, the increased use of renewables such as hydropower, wind, solar, and biomass in power generation is projected to contribute between 9% and 16% of the CO2 emission reductions. The share of renewables in the generation mix increases from 18% today, to as high as 34% by 2050. Hydropower is already widely deployed and is, in many areas, the cheapest source of power. There is considerable potential for expansion, particularly for small hydro plants. The costs of onshore and offshore wind have declined sharply in recent years through mass deployment, the use of larger blades, and more sophisticated controls. Costs depend on location. The best onshore sites, which can produce power for about USD 0.04 per kWh, are already competitive with other power sources. Offshore installations are more costly, especially in deep water, but are expected to be commercial after 2030. In situations where wind will have a very high share of generation, it will need to be complemented by sophisticated networks, back-up systems, or storage, to accommodate its intermittency. It is projected that power generation from wind turbines is set to increase rapidly. The combustion of biomass for power generation is a well-proven technology. It is commercially attractive where quality fuel is available and affordable. Co-firing a coal-fired power plant with a small portion of biomass requires no major plant modifications, can be highly economic and can also contribute to CO2 emission reductions. The costs of high-temperature geother-mal resources for power generation have dropped substantially since the 1970s. Geothermal's potential is enormous, but it is a site-specific resource that can only

* This chapter is an edited version of chapter 4 of Energy Technology Perspectives 2006©IEA/ OECD, 2006, reproduced with permission of the International Energy Agency.

The findings included in this chapter do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of the Environmental Protection Agency. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute Agency endorsement or recommendation for use.

F.T. Princiotta (ed.), Global Climate Change - The Technology Challenge, Advances in Global Change Research 38, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-3153-2_5, © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

be accessed in certain parts of the world for power generation. Lower-temperature geothermal resources for direct uses like district heating and ground-source heat pumps are more widespread. Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology is playing a rapidly growing role in niche applications. Costs have dropped with increased deployment and continuing R&D. Concentrating solar power (CSP) also has promising prospects. By 2050, however, solar's (PV and CSP) share in global power generation is still projected to be below 2%.

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