Global energy clean-up 'stalled' – IEA

Efforts to clean up global energy supplies have "stalled" despite impressive growth in the renewable power sector over the last decade, warns the International Energy Agency (IEA).

In a bleak assessment, the IEA says there was almost no change in its Energy Sector Carbon Intensity Index (ESCII) – which measures CO2 emissions per unit of energy – between 1990 and 2010, dropping just 0.02 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of oil equivalent to 2.37tCO2/toe.

The IEA’s annual Tracking Clean Energy Progress report blames factors such as increased use of coal and slow progress in energy-efficiency measures for the lack of movement.

Renewable power growth is one of the bright spots, according to the IEA, and the sector is broadly on track to do its bit towards realising the so-called 2DS Scenario – limiting average global temperature increase to 2degreesC.

The IEA notes the “impressive” growth of key renewable sources, among them PV, onshore wind and hydropower.

It also says the growing clean-energy ambitions of non-OECD nations is “very positive”.

The IEA said: “From 2011 to 2012, solar photovoltaic and wind technologies grew by an impressive 42% and 19%, respectively, despite ongoing economic and policy turbulence in the sector.

“Emerging economies are also stepping up efforts in clean energy. Brazil, China and India were among the countries that enhanced policy support for the renewable electricity sector in 2012, for example.”

However, the report urges faster progress in offshore wind and concentrating solar power (CSP), and wants governments to back renewables with policies that are predictable, and that allow capital investment costs to be recuperated.

Presenting the report to energy ministers, IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven said: “The overall lack of progress should serve as a wake-up call. We cannot afford another 20 years of listlessness.

“We need a rapid expansion in low-carbon energy technologies if we are to avoid a potentially catastrophic warming of the planet, but we must also accelerate the shift away from dirtier fossil fuels.”