Renewable energy technologies could expand 20 times over by mid-century, reports the United Nations in its most comprehensive sector overview to date.
Technology advances combined with falling costs have set the stage for “a substantial increase in the deployment of renewable energy by 2030, 2050 and beyond,” says the report, which looked at 164 potential development scenarios.
Under the highest estimates, the U.N. says renewables could supply up to 77% of total energy supply by 2050. However, even under more conservative scenarios, power supply from renewable energy may increase to between 200-400 exajoules (EJ) by 2050, increasing from 64 EJ in 2008. [An exajoule (EJ) is a measure of global power usage.]
Increasing the use of renewable energy around the world could translate into cumulative carbon dioxide emissions savings of 220-560 billion tons over the time period 2010-2050. Predicted industry investment may range from $1.36 – $5.1 trillion through 2020 and between $1.49 – $7.18 trillion through 2030.
The report will be presented to delegates at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) meeting in Abu Dhabi this week.