Yikes! 80% renewables!?! Smart grid stress test ahead


By: SGN Staff


Quick Take: The smart grid's job is going to get harder than expected sooner than expected if a new UN-commissioned study is correct. It says almost 80% of total energy could come from renewable sources by 2050, and 50% of our electricity. And here we've been thinking that a 10% penetration rate was hard enough. - Jesse Berst


The news that a UN-commissioned report says renewable energy could provide almost 80% of the world's energy by 2050 may have advocates beaming with joy. While that number comes from the most optimistic scenarios in an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released Monday, it indicates that renewable energy sources could grow faster (and sooner) than expected.


The IPCC panel reviewed 164 scenarios involving six sources of renewable energy: bioenergy, direct solar, geothermal, hydropower, ocean and wind. More than half of the scenarios reviewed put the renewable energy yield at more than 27% by 2050 - that's still a fairly big number.


The report, a 25-page distillation of the original 1,000-page assessment, adds that the R&D needed for significant increases in renewable energy is most effective when supported by deployment policies that "simultaneously enhance demand for new technologies."


A Business Green article quoted Prof. Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chair of the IPCC working group that produced the original assessment, as saying the "...substantial increase of renewables is technically and politically very challenging." But the report also notes that, even in the absence of those policies, renewables will continue to grow.


Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid News.com. He consults to smart grid companies seeking market entry advice and M&A advisory. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the US and abroad, he also serves on the Advisory Council of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Energy & Environment directorate.


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