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Posted : 2013-10-14 17:00
Updated : 2013-10-14 17:00

'Energy trilemma' emerges as major challenge

GS Caltex Chairman Hur Dong-soo, third from left, talks with other international delegates in the opening session of the World Energy Congress (WEC) at the Exhibition and Convention Center (EXCO) in Daegu, Monday. / Courtesy of WEC Daegu 2013 Organizing Committee

Governments urged to tackle depletion, pollution, climate change

By Choi Kyong-ae

Saudi Aramco CEO Khalid Al-Falih delivers a keynote speech regarding his vision for the future during the WEC at EXCO, Monday.
DAEGU ㅡ Governments from both developing and developed countries should join hands to tackle the so-called energy "trilemma" to ensure a stable supply of energy in the future, according to the World Energy Council (WEC), Monday.

The council pointed out that government initiatives to share the costs and to balance global energy demand will help address several significant challenges in the energy sector.

In a press conference in Daegu, the venue of the 2013 WEC, three energy experts from the council stressed that each government should tackle the "energy trilemma" – depletion of natural resources, environmental pollution and climate change.

In a three-year study dubbed "World Energy Scenarios: Composing energy futures up to 2050," Rob Whitney presented two energy scenarios. One involved what he called a more consumer-driven "Jazz scenario," and the other was a voter-driven "Symphony scenario." What differentiated these two was whether countries in either scenario were able to pass the Doha Climate Gateway.

The Jazz scenario is one that is market-driven, while the Symphony scenario is one that is government-led, said Whitney, adding the WEC scenarios will allow policymakers and energy leaders to "test the key assumptions (in the report) to better shape the energy of tomorrow."

Under the Jazz scenario, overall primary energy supply could rise by 61 percent by 2050, while under the Symphony scenario, these supplies could increase by only 27 percent, thus illustrating what impact the choosing of one policy solution over the other can have in the energy sector, Whitney said.

Primary energy is that embodied in natural resources prior to undergoing any human-made conversions or transformations. This includes coal, crude oil, sunlight, wind and rivers.

Whitney said the government-driven Symphony scenario will help boost the use of renewable energy resources compared to the market-led Jazz scenario.

"While the share of renewable energy resources in the global energy mix will post an accumulated growth of 20 percent in Jazz and a 30 percent growth in Symphony over the next four decades. The scenarios show fossil fuels will remain the dominant resource in the future, accounting for 77 percent in jazz and 59 percent in symphony," said Whitney.

By 2050, the use of solar power for electricity generation is poised to increase by up to 225 times over 2010 levels, according to the report.

Similarly, he said the increased use of conventional fuels and a switch to natural gas will almost double the use of transport fuels by 2050 in jazz, while in Symphony the increase will only be 20 percent helped by a higher use of biofuels.

Sharing the financial burden will be key to narrowing the gap running deep between the developed and developing countries in terms of energy demand and consumption, said Whitney.

"In order to cater to the rising electricity needs generated by economic development to 2050, the world will need to invest from $19 trillion in jazz to over $25 trillion in symphony for electricity generation alone," he said. "The majority of investments required will be directed towards solar panels, hydro and wind power."

He predicted much less investment will be made in renewable electricity generation under the market-driven Jazz scenario compared to the government-led Symphony.

Karl Rose, senior director in charge of policies and scenarios at the WEC, said the ultimate issue is that energy demand will continue to grow at an unsustainable rate through 2050, though there will be opportunities for a range of technological solutions.

"One of the most significant findings (in the report) is the strong regional variation of priorities and solutions in the energy system. Too often we look at the world as one entity and seek global solutions, but the reality is very different and this needs to be recognized," Rose said.

The rate of increase in energy access will still fall far short of meeting rising global demand in the next decades, he warned.

Globally, between 730 million and 880 million people will still be without access to electricity in 2030, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa. Worse still, this figure would only decline to 319 million and 530 million people in 2050, the report said.

Asia will remain the biggest consumer of total primary energy consumption by 2050, as rapid growth is still expected in many of the countries in the region, unlike the developed world, including North America and Europe, whose growth is slowing, Whitney said.

"The African continent will face the biggest electrification challenge by 2050," said Rose.

By 2050, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions levels will remain in excess of the 450 parts per million (ppm) CO2 target adopted by many governments under both scenarios," said the report.

"A significant reduction of CO2 emissions is possible after 2020 in symphony but it still leaves the emissions almost at double the amount with regard to the objective of halving emissions compared to 1990 levels," said Rose.

WEC Secretary General Christoph Frei urged governments to have determination when setting up clear and robust policy frameworks, focusing on technology development and managing their carbon budget for balanced energy supply around the world.

Established in 1923, the WEC is the only global forum for energy leaders to discuss ways to promote the sustainable supply and use of energy for global citizens.


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