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Slow Progress Towards Low Carbon Society

Frost and SullivanDespite anticipated increases in renewable power generation in coming years, global progress towards a low-carbon energy system will remain slow, according to an analysis by Frost & Sullivan.

According to the report, coal-based generation will decline rapidly in North America and Europe post-2020 and gas-fired power generation is expected to register a substantial net increase globally. However, those gains will be offset by growth of coal-fired capacities in emerging regions.

Coal will account for nearly 26 percent of the installed capacity and almost 34 percent of generation in 2030, according to Harald Thaler of Frost & Sullivan, though he notes that gas is expected to catch up rapidly.

Additional major market trends include:

  • A boom in gas-fired additions owing to the need for cleaner, more flexible generating systems and the higher global gas output.
  • A massive capacity expansion in North America as a result of vast shale gas discoveries. Gas-based power will gain pace in the Middle East and China as well.
  • A strong growth in renewable energy demand across the world. The main driver for this will be governments’ focus on curbing fossil fuel emissions, partly to comply with international agreements on climate change and partly to support new industries in the field of green economy.
  • North America and Asia will outpace Europe in terms of renewable capacity development as the region scales back its support programs amid weak power demand growth and governmental austerity drives.

According to Thaler, the share of carbon-free power is predicted to go up only gradually, from 32 percent in 2012 to 38 percent in 2020 and to 42 percent in 2030.

Earlier this month, Helveg Petersen, Denmark’s climate, energy and building minister said that Denmark should ban coal use by 2025.

In addition, two studies by the Climate Policy Initiative released last month — The Financial Impact of the Low-Carbon Transition and The Impact of Policy Pathways on Fossil Fuel Asset Values — found that with the right policies in place, a low-carbon energy system could free up trillions of dollars over the next 20 years.

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