A new report by the International Energy Agency(IEA) says that while investments in clean power are essential to reduce fossil-fuel consumption, improved efficiency offers the clearest path to better energy management in the decades ahead.
IEA’s report comes ahead of final negotiations on a controversial proposal about the new directive on energy efficiency between European Parliament, Commission and Council.
Institutions are debating over the how effective the directive will be in reducing waste after member states rejected binding efficiency targets.
The report calls for “strong government policy action” to foster efficiency and the development of low-carbon energy.
IEA estimates that it would cost $36 trillion through 2050 to cut carbon emissions by 50% compared to 2005 levels and limit the long-term rise in global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius.
This would be on top of the anticipated $100 trillion investments in the energy sector if current policies are unchanged.
However, the study also says there are huge returns on the higher investment: long-term energy savings of $100 trillion would pay for the investments in low-carbon energy technology three times over.
IEA highlights progress in improving vehicle fuel economy and advances in electric transportation. Solar and wind generation have grown by an average of 42% and 27% annually in the past decade, but still would fall well short of meeting the doubling in demand between now and 2050, agency figures show.
The Clean Edge Inc annual Clean Energy Trends 2012 report, revealed that combined global revenue for solar PV, wind power and biofuels defied the tough economic environment to grow from $188.1bn in 2010 to $246.1bn last year.
The Agency also calls for development of “smart grids” that reduce waste in electricity transmission: the energy balance” needed for a world of 9 billion people – up from 7 billion today – should include far more controversial sources of power, including nuclear and biofuels.