Peter Lund of Helsinki University of Technology's Advanced Energy Systems in his research work said that renewable energy technologies like wind and photovoltaics could supply 40% of the world's electricity by 2050 with proper financial and political support. But in case such technologies were marginalized, its share will decrease below 15%. The research was presented ahead of the scheduled congress session titled, "Renewable Energies: How Far Can They Take Us?"
Earlier projections target renewable energy’s share at only 12% by 2030. Other researchers in the same congress session further support the viability of renewables, looking closely the limitations and potential of wind, biomass and biofuels.
Risoe DTU’s Wind Energy Department Erik Lundtang Petersen said that in order for the wind sector to deliver its full potential, it must focus on efficiently delivering, installing and connecting large amounts of wind power to the grid, with strong concern for reliability, availability and accessibility of the turbines.
Within biofuels and biomass, research conducted by Jeanette Whitaker of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Lancaster, UK found that second generation biofuels, such as ethanol from woody crops/straw, had substantially lower energy requirements and greenhouse gas emissions than first generation biofuels, such as ethanol made from foodstuffs, for example wheat and sugar beet.
Our findings demonstrate that with global political support and financial investment, previous notions that the potential for renewables was in some way limited to a negligible fraction of world demand were wrong, Lund said. If we prioritize and recognize the value of renewable energy technologies, their potential to supply us with the energy we need is tremendous.
We have identified specific areas of priority for the wind sector to effectively deliver the overall objective of cost reductions, said Petersen. Research areas including turbine technology, wind energy integration and offshore deployment will be crucial to maximizing future growth.
These findings are important and relevant, as the current biofuel debate has centered on the issue of the competing need for crops to be used for food versus fuel, Whitaker said.