This is literally one of the most daunting challenges for the 21st century. Clean energy for the global population: for people who climb up the prosperity ladder and will consume more energy, for people who currently rely on relatively polluting energy sources, such as wood stoves, and for people who are already heavy energy consumers, like in the Western world. More than 500 scientist, policy makers, industry- and energy experts from 70 countries have addressed this issue and came up with a whole range of solutions that could help to realize a future with clean energy for everybody on earth.
Six years of work, almost 2.000 pages and a 5,5kg report, the Global Energy Assessment, GEA, can be considered one of the most comprehensive analyses and foresights of the global energy system in the 21st century. The GEA report focuses on the years 2030 to 2050 and calculates the global needs for clean energy. The key words for this: renewable, safe, efficient, innovative and healthy. Energy consumption is closely linked to life style and standards of living, so this should be taken into account.
This is where it gets complicated. The trends are showing an almost exponential rise in energy consumption. And to make matters worse, the GEA experts agree that current production systems do not deliver affordable, secure, and environmentally sound energy services.
According to GEA, there are many things that need to be done. Renewable energy sources are a major part of the solution. But also the production of fossil energy can be done in a cleaner way. Techniques for energy storage, carbon capture and storage (CCS) can still be improved and become more widely applied to bring down the impact of our energy system on climate change. But even more important could be our own change in thinking and live style. When saving energy use is on top of our mind, it could have a major effect. Not only as consumers, but also as business professionals in industry, government or NGO’s. Rising energy awareness in all of us could help us make decisions for a clean energy future. These kind of choices show that is it feasible, and explain for the optimism of the GEA consortium. Now we have to go on and make those choices to accomplish the transformation of the energy system.