Renewables are the world’s fastest-growing energy source


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The good news: renewable energy -- in the form of solar power, wind, hydroelectric and other types -- is the world’s fastest-growing energy resource. That’s according to the U.S. Energy Department’s International Energy Outlook 2011, released this week.

The not-so-good news: World dependence on fossil fuels will remain, largely because of tremendous leaps in demand from China, India and other emerging economies. That increase in demand will be so great, Energy Department analysts say, that renewable energy will see only a slight increase in its share of the world’s energy sources, rising from the current 10% to 14% in 2035.


Global use of petroleum and other liquids is expected to soar from 85.7 million barrels a day in 2008 to 112.2 million barrels a day in 2035. The energy outlook report said that increase will primarily come in transportation, ‘where, in the absence of significant technological advances, liquids continue to provide much of the energy consumed.’

Linda Doman, international energy analyst for the Energy Department, said that the outlook is not so much a prediction of where energy use will really be by 2035, but a projection of where it could be if current technology and governmental policies remain unchanged over the next 25 years.

Doman added that, despite the relatively small increase in the share of renewables in the outlook report, her agency still considered the development of alternative energy as second in significance only to the ravenous growth in energy demand from China and India and other countries.

Still, Doman said, ‘you won’t get something like 50% of your energy from renewable sources unless something big changes, unless there is a technological epiphany.’

-- Ronald D. White


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Caption: Mirrors reflect the sun, concentrating its energy into a transom of pipes, at Ausra Inc.’s Kimberlina Solar Thermal Energy Plant in Bakersfield. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times