International Scientific Congress on Climate Change: Day Two from Copenhagen – New Renewables to Power 40% of Global Electricity Demand by 2050

Renewable energy could provide 40% of global electricity supply by 2050With global cooperation and investment, renewables share will exceed all previous estimates

It still may be something of a big “if”, but a press statement from the 2nd day of the International Scientific Congress on Climate Change, meeting this week in preparation for the United Nations COP-15 Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this coming December, says that if there is adequate financial and political support, renewable energy from wind, solar, wave, tidal, and geothermal technologies could supply 40% of global electricity supply by 2050.

The findings were presented by Peter Lund of the Helsinki University of Technology’s Advanced Energy Systems at a press conference prior to the start of a conference session entitled Renewable Energies: How Far Can They Take Us?

Our findings demonstrate that with global political support and financial investment, previous notions that the potential for renewables was in some way limited to a negligible fraction of world demand were wrong,” said Lund. “If we prioritize and recognize the value of renewable energy technologies, their potential to supply us with the energy we need is tremendous.”

The best projections for renewables on a global scale had only been 12% by 2030. Researchers warn, however, that without a commitment from financial and political leaders, the vast potential of renewable energy could be squandered, reaching only around 15% or lower by 2050 instead of the new projection of 40%.

Other research presented at the session examined the limits and potential of wind, biomass, and biofuel:


To reach its full potential, wind energy must focus on efficiently delivering and connecting large amounts of power to the grid, requiring substantial upgrade to grid infrastructure and deployment of “smart-grid” technology. Also of major concern is the reliability, availability, and accessibility of wind turbines, according Erik Lundtang Petersen of Risoe DTU’s Wind Energy Department in Roskilde, Denmark.

We have identified specific areas of priority for the wind sector to effectively deliver the overall objective of cost reductions,” said Petersen. “Research areas including turbine technology, wind energy integration and offshore deployment will be crucial to maximizing future growth.”

Biofuel, biomass

Research presented by Jeanette Whitaker of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Lancaster, UK, finds that second generation biofuel hold substantially more promise than ethanol made from food-based feedstocks. Second generation biofuels are created from non-editable feedstocks such as grasses, wood crops, and other sustainable non-food sources.

These findings are important and relevant, as the current biofuel debate has centered on the issue of the competing need for crops to be used for food versus fuel,” said Whitaker.

The purpose of the congress is to deliver an update on our knowledge of climate change and how to address the risks and opportunities ahead. The results will be presented to world leaders as they gather later this year in Copenhagen for the post-Kyoto negotiations at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15).

Stay tuned for more updates from the conference.

Thomas Schueneman
Thomas Schueneman
Tom is the founder and managing editor of and the PlanetWatch Group. His work appears in Triple Pundit, Slate, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, Earth911, and several other sustainability-focused publications. Tom is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

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