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Clean energy through innovation


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The world is using more energy than ever before, but most of it still comes from fossil fuels. We need to change course – and fast. This infographic explores if new technologies can put us on track for a clean energy future.

Published in: Environment
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Clean energy through innovation

  1. 1. CLEAN ENERGY PATH CHEAP RENEWABLES WHY PRICES WILL FALL RENEWABLES RACE BUSINESS AS USUAL THE ROAD TO CLEAN ENERGY THROUGH INNOVATION THE WORLD IS USING MORE ENERGY THAN EVER BEFORE. BUT MOST OF IT STILL COMES FROM FOSSIL FUELS. WE NEED TO CHANGE COURSE—AND FAST. CAN NEW TECHNOLOGIES PUT US ON TRACK FOR A CLEAN ENERGY FUTURE? China currently has a quarter of the world's renewable electricity capacity Hydroelectricity is a renewable source of energy, but not one that can be scaled up sustainably. Flooding valleys for large hydroelectric dams destroys wildlife habitats and displaces people. NO HYDRO? Nuclear Other Wind Solar Hydro Gas Oil Coal 15,000 12,000 9,000 6,000 3,000 1965 1975 1985 1995 2005 2015 LESS THAN 10% OF OUR ENERGY COMES FROM RENEWABLES World primary energy consumption, million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) Clean energy scenario Emissions peak before 2020 Business as usual scenario Emissions keep rising until 2100 Average global temperature increase in 2081-2100 compared to 1986-2005 A BRIGHT FUTURE Wind and solar energy have seen triple-digit growth over the last five years Solar and wind will become super-affordable over the next decade 1. MORE EFFICIENT PLANTS TOO HOT TO HANDLE A future where temperatures are nearly 5°C higher is not a future we want Nuclear Other Wind Solar Hydro Gas Oil Coal -6.9% +38% +146% +14% +8.6% +6.2% +5.7% +664% Gigawatts (GW) of renewable electricity in 2015 By country China U.S.Germ any Japan India Italy Spain 496 202 97 65 83 51 49 Note: Solar energy includes electricity from photovoltaic (PV) panels and electricity and, where relevant, heat from concentrating solar power (CSP) plants. Individually-rounded values may not sum 100%. Sources: BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2016, IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, IRENA The Power to Change 2016, REN21 Renewables Global Status Report 2016, UN World Population Prospects 2015, Jacobson and Delucchi 2011. AN UNSUSTAINABLE PATH THE ROAD TO CLEAN ENERGY THROUGH INNOVATION ENERGY USE Tonnes of oil equivalent (toe) per person 1965 2015 1.1 +59% 1.8 ENERGY-RELATED EMISSIONS Tonnes of CO2 per person 1965 2015 3.4 +33% 4.6 THE WORLD'S POPULATION HAS GROWN OVER THE LAST 50 YEARS. BUT SO HAS THE ENERGY USED PER PERSON, LEADING TO HIGHER CO2 EMISSIONS. THE PROBLEM ISN'T THAT WE'RE RUNNING OUT OF FOSSIL FUELS. THE WORLD HAS OVER 50 YEARS OF OIL AND GAS AND 100 YEARS OF COAL LEFT. BUT WE CANNOT AFFORD TO BURN THEM. A TURNING POINT THE ROAD AHEAD INTO THE DISTANCE A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE Photovoltaic (PV) Concentrating solar Onshore wind Offshore wind 12 9 6 5 18 15 13 7 Average global cost per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity, US cents 2015 2025 Bigger wind turbines will capture more energy from the same amount of wind 2. DATA-DRIVEN INNOVATIONS Digital technology will mean more efficient, more reliable renewable energy storage 3. ECONOMIES OF SCALE Doing business will become ever cheaper and easier as markets for renewable technologies grow Digital wind farms: Use data from sensors to position turbines precisely and create more efficient blades Average rotor diameter, US onshore wind turbines 1998 2014 2025 48 metres 99 metres 119 metres Fall in module costs with every doubling of energy capacity Smart grids: Can handle the fluctuat- ing power from wind and solar plants and could be integrated with electric vehicles Predictive maintenance: Continuous monitoring of energy plants so that they can be fixed before they break down 18-22% Solar PV 12% Wind 1,064 Hydro 433 Wind 232 Solar 120 Other By source 1,819 GW Global THE BIZARRE TECHNOLOGIES BEING ROAD-TESTED TODAY THAT COULD ONE DAY MEET OUR ENERGY NEEDS BIODIESEL FROM ALGAE Algae are up to 50% oil and can produce 15 times more fuel per acre than oil palm. Biodiesel from giant algae-filled ponds could one day power jet aircraft. GIGANTIC BATTERIES Nuclear plants provide a constant stream of backup power. But power demand fluctuates over the day, so surplus energy is generated at off-peak times. Enormous batteries could soon store this energy and release it when needed. HIGH-ALTITUDE TURBINES Winds in the jet stream, 8-16km up, are on average eight times as powerful as surface winds. What if we could capture that energy? Over 50 commercial projects are currently working on it. HALOPHYTE BIOFUELS Today's biofuels compete with food crops for land and fresh water. But salt-loving plants called halophytes don't have this problem—they can grow in deserts irrigated with seawater—making them a promising option for future biofuels. ECOPARKS Energy and industrial plants can be coupled with each other as an ecosystem to minimize energy, material waste and environmental footprints. For example, surplus steam from a power plant can be transferred to another plant, or used to heat homes. COULD WE EVER POWER THE WORLD ON CLEAN ENERGY? YES—AND WE COULD DO IT BY 2030. POWERING THE WORLD ON CLEAN ENERGY ALONE WOULD TAKE JUST 1% OF THE WORLD'S LAND AREA. 5.8 Wind 4.6 Solar 0.5 Hydro 0.7 Other 11.5TW GLOBAL POWER DEMAND IN 2030 2.6-4.8°C 0.3°-1.7°C ! ! ! (terawatts)