Renewable Energy Future Could Save the World Billions of Dollars a Year

BRUSSELS, Belgium, July 6, 2007 (ENS) - Investing in renewable electricity worldwide instead of burning fossil fuels could save US$180 billion annually and cut emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in half by 2030, according to a joint report by Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council, released today.

In the first global analysis of its kind, the report argues for a shift in global investments towards renewable energy - solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and bioenergy - within the next 23 years, and away from "dangerous" coal and nuclear power.

"As Live Earth mobilizes billions of people to take urgent action against the climate threat, our report shows not only that the world’s electricity needs can be met by renewable energy, but that by doing so, we will literally save trillions of dollars; a massive US$180 billion a year, forever," said Sven Teske of Greenpeace International.

Five of the 30 wind turbines at Britain's largest wind facility, the Kentish Flats offshore wind farm (Photo courtesy Kentish Flats)
The report gives the financial rationale for Greenpeace's "Energy Revolution," a blueprint for how to cut global carbon dioxide, CO2, emissions by 50 percent by 2050, while maintaining global economic growth.

The Energy Revolution scenario is an alternative to the International Energy Agency's world energy outlook.

"In sharp contrast," Teske said, a "business as usual approach casts a dark cloud over our future."

"Its 10,000 new fossil fuel power plants, would increase global CO2 emissions by over 50 percent, and more than double fuel costs; there is no way of putting a price on the disastrous results this will have for environment and humanity," he said.

The Energy Revolution needs an extra global annual investment of $22 billion in clean and renewable power plants on top of current expenditure, Greenpeace says.

The fuel cost savings of up to $202 billion per year, means this will pay for itself 10 times over," said Teske.

The report says that converting the subsidies of $250 billion a year that now are given to the coal and gas industries to clean, safe renewable energy will cover the costs of the energy revolution and much more, he said.

The European Renewable Energy Council says the global market for wind turbines was worth some €18 billion in 2006, and the total renewable industry was worth about $50 billion.

The Council is the umbrella organization of European renewable energy industry, trade and research associations working in the photovoltaic, wind energy, small hydropower, biomass, geothermal energy and solar thermal sectors.

Under an energy revolution scenario, renewable energy would be worth an annual market volume of $288 billion by 2030, the Council projects.

"The renewable industry is willing and able to deliver the power plants the world needs, we simply need the right climate and energy policy," said Oliver Schäfer, EREC policy director.

"Decisions made in the next few years, will continue to have an impact in 2050. Only if a renewable energy path is taken, can we avoid the worst excesses of climate change," he warned.

The report stresses the urgent need for decisive action now. In the next decade, many existing power plants will need replacing, and emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil are rapidly building new energy infrastructure.

"Future Investment - A sustainable Investment Plan for the power sector to save the Climate," is online at: www.energyblueprint.info, www.greenpeace.org, and www.erec.org

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