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Renewable Energy Targets  

Author:  | Emissions, Technology

World Energy Council (WEC) Statement 2003

If, for example, the foremost objective of renewable energy targets is to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, other ways of achieving the same goals should also be considered. Reducing primary energy consumption by improving efficiency in energy conversion, transportation and use can produce substantial benefits. Modest estimates of the potential for energy savings in buildings, industry and transport in some countries indicate that at least one-third of primary energy consumption could be saved without any change in end-use technologies. Investing in clean fossil fuel technology can often lead to much greater environmental benefits than supporting some currently immature renewable technologies, particularly in markets with over-capacity. …

Technical and Environmental Considerations

The bulk of electric power cannot currently be stored in an economically feasible way. It has to be generated at the same time it is used, and electricity grids require power to be supplied at the rated frequency and voltage, free from harmonics, voltage surges and interruptions. A modern industrialised society depends heavily on stable and high quality power supplies to run industrial processes and information technology. There are, therefore, a number of operational aspects which have to be taken into account when specific energy targets are considered. For the deployment of renewables on a large scale, these include the intermittent nature of leading sources, the related problems of full integration with grids, low capacity factors and the need for back-up power.

When renewable energy targets are aimed at the reduction of GHG emissions, broad technical issues should be taken into consideration. For example, emissions per kilowatt-hour from conventional power stations are reduced by maximising their base-load operation; however, integration of some renewable generating capacities into the grid can increase frequency fluctuations, thus raising the overall emissions levels. Another issue, which in many cases is not fully taken into account, is back-up capacity to provide electricity at short notice, which most often relies on diesel or coal-fired generating units.

Download original document: “Renewable Energy Targets

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In the WEC Statement 2007, “The Energy Industry Unveils Its Blueprint for Tackling Climate Change”, wind is mentioned just once, in passing.

WEC Statement 2002, “Energy for People, Energy for Peace”:

Renewables and distributed generation based on local resources and energy storage: Exploiting the technical potential of many renewable energy sources still has certain limits (such as integration with base-load distribution systems, the low capacity factors and lack of storage), so the timeframe for substantial penetration of new renewable technologies in the global energy mix is estimated to be 30-40 years.

WEC Statement 2006, “Energy Efficiencies: Pipe-Dream or Reality?”:

Estimates of the gains which can actually be won [through energy efficiency] vary dramatically. For example, when the UK White Paper on Energy was published in 2003, it put a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions as the number one objective and argued that 25-40% of future UK energy needs could be met by improvements in energy efficiency. On the other hand, during the deliberations of the recent US Energy Task Force, some people argued that energy efficiency and conservation would not play much of a role in reducing US dependence on oil imports. In contrast, a recent International Energy Agency publication found that, while progress on energy efficiency in OECD countries has tapered off dramatically since the late 1990’s, end use efficiencies alone could account for a 3.5 gigatonne reduction in global carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.

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Our thanks to Ron at windfarms.wordpress.com for bringing the WEC annual statements to our attention.

This article is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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