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Global Futures Report 2013 - Box 1

11 larger future shares of renewables, some said. In achieving high- renewables futures, some scenarios model an immediate slowdown in construction of conventional power plants before 2020, particu- larly in developing countries.12 This report brings together industry and expert opinions with pub- lished scenarios to map out the range of possibilities for renewable energy futures, blended into a unique “mosaic” of viewpoints. The following chapters explain and explore those possibilities, from the conventional-rooted to the highest projections of renewable energy and transformational change. The report follows two main lines of thought. Firstly, according to a credible range of contemporary thinking, how much renewable energy will exist in the future? This question is addressed in Chapter 1 and throughout the report. Secondly, according to contemporary thinking, including interviews with 170 experts, what do renewable energy futures look like? In the following chapters, experts and scenarios paint views of the future that reflect the following possibilities, choices, and actions: n The challenges of integrating renewables into electric power grids, buildings, transport, and industry are met by a variety of stakeholders such as utilities, builders, planners, manufacturers, energy-service businesses, and many others. (See Chapter 2.) n Profitable ways to invest in renewable energy from an expand- ing range of sources using a wide variety of business models are pursued by energy consumers, energy companies, investors, banks, funds, intermediaries, and other types of businesses. (See Chapter 3.) n At the local level, possibilities for urban planning, built infra- structure, and transport systems that incorporate renewable energy are acted upon by local governments, community groups, residents, businesses, and many other types of local stakehold- ers. (See Chapter 4.) n At the national (and EU) level, renewable energy markets grow in a diversifying and greater number of countries around the world—driven by supportive renewable energy policies, influ- enced by policy targets, and supplied by local renewable energy industries. (See Chapter 5.) n Globally, technology performance and capabilities evolve, costs decline, and aggregate global markets grow, through the ongoing work of manufacturers, researchers, project developers, energy companies, and other market players. (See Chapter 6.) Renewable energy has historically had many detractors. “Renewable energy is too expensive,” many have said over the years. “Increasing amounts of public subsidies will be required for a long time,” many have also said, or its variation, “renewable energy is only developing because there is policy support.” And many have considered renewable energy technologies relatively immature and requiring further research. Such views persist today in the energy industry. For example, ExxonMobil, in its 2012 Outlook for Energy to 2040, said, “advances in technology will be necessary to make [renewable] fuels more practical and economic … geothermal and solar will remain relatively expensive.” ENI noted, “the technologies pres- ently available only allow for limited production of energy at high prices.” And Chevron said, “because of major technical hurdles— such as scalability, performance, and costs—as well as market- based barriers, broader adoption [of renewables] can’t happen overnight.” Renewables advocates reply that conventional cost comparisons are unfair for a host of reasons, including existing public sub- sidies for fossil fuels and nuclear, the failure to properly incor- porate future fuel-price risks in comparisons, and the failure to adequately count environmental costs. (See “Great Debate 1” on next page.) They also say that some renewable technologies are already fully competitive, and that for others, policy support will not be necessary in the long run, as rapid evolution in markets, technologies, and costs, driven by past policies, are making more renewable technologies fully competitive more quickly. Most scenario projections of renewable energy show lower renewables costs in the coming decade and beyond. (Some do not, however. ExxonMobil (2012) forecasts that the price of electricity gener- ated from renewables will be higher than the price of conven- tional electricity even in 2030, with the exception of onshore wind power.) (See Chapter 6.) Another major detraction has been the variability of renewables. Detractors have said that this variability means high costs because of the need for energy storage. “Until better technologies become available for the storage of electricity, wind farms usually require back-up from conventional forms of base-load power genera- tion,” said CLP Hong Kong Power. However, many utility experts pointed to a wide range of options to manage the variability of renewable energy that do not require storage. Scenarios also exist that show high shares of renewables using mostly other balancing options. (See utility power grid integration in Chapter 2.) Detractors have also called renewables “too diffuse” to meet the needs of highly concentrated energy uses in modern industrial society. Some have also believed that, “It’s only applicable in some countries with good renewable resources or lacking in conven- tional energy resources.” (See Chapters 1 and 5.) The range of contemporary thinking by experts, industry players, published scenarios, and many energy companies themselves, as portrayed throughout this report, is mostly at odds with the above thinking of detractors. Although it was not the purpose of this report to directly refute such viewpoints, one cannot help but see, after reading the entire report, that such viewpoints face dimin- ishing validity in the future. Source: See Endnote 13 of the report's Introduction. Box 1 | Detractors of Renewable Energy and Future Outlooks

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