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Global Futures Report 2013 - Forward

foreword When REN21 was founded in 2004, the future of renewable energy looked very different than it does today. No one imagined then that 70% of new power capacity added in Europe would be renewable, which is what happened in 2011. No one imagined that tens of millions of homes and businesses in several countries would add solar power on their rooftops so rapidly. No one imagined that China would go from minor player to global leader in just six years, or that developing countries as a group would become home to more than one-third of global wind power capacity. And many scenario projec- tions made in the years prior to 2004 showed levels of renewables by 2020 that were already exceeded by 2010. The evolution of policies and markets for renewable energy has been absolutely remarkable over the past decade. The annual REN21 Renewables Global Status Report provides evidence of this rapid development. In 2011, over $260 billion was invested in new renewable energy capacity, more than for fossil fuel and nuclear power combined. This is up from just $40 billion in 2004. In 2011, some 120 countries around the world had policies to support renew- able energy; most are now developing countries. In 2004, countries with support policies numbered about 50, then mostly developed countries. In 2011, the annual solar photovoltaic (PV) market was 30-fold greater than in 2004. And in many other respects, policies combined with technology cost reductions have driven markets in unprecedented ways. With the trends of the past 10 years behind us, and with the dynamic nature of renewable energy markets, technologies, and cost reduc- tions continuing, we can look to the future with a very different perspective than in 2004. The purpose of this report is to show the range of credible possibili- ties for the future of renewable energy. It does not present just one vision of the future, but rather a full and objective range of visions, based on the collective and contemporary thinking of many. This report combines a unique array of interviews with 170 experts from around the world, along with over 50 recently published scenarios. These interviews and scenarios are blended into a “mosaic” of thinking about the future. Persons interviewed included industry and finance experts, CEOs and business managers, researchers and academics, policymakers and parliamentarians, and public advocates and visionaries, among many others. Views of existing energy companies are also included. Of course, the economic difficulties reaching around the globe at the end of 2012 will profoundly affect the future as well, in ways that we cannot foresee. Yet in focusing on the long term, 2020 through 2050, this report encourages us to look at the possibilities that lie well beyond these difficulties. The REN21 Renewables Global Futures Report is a sister publication to the annual REN21 Renewables Global Status Report. By design, the Status Report covers only the present situation worldwide, not projections about the future. So the two reports are very comple- mentary. Futures Report author Eric Martinot served as lead author for the Status Report from 2005 to 2010, and is well grounded in the present situation. He uses present status as a starting point for visions of the future, creating an innovative blend of present and future. REN21 intends to use this report to facilitate dialogues and discus- sions about the future of renewable energy among a wide range of stakeholders, and especially with a view to future policymaking. Although the report is careful not to provide policy recommenda- tions, as that was not its purpose, it offers much insight to those formulating such recommendations. A series of “Great Debates” located throughout the report are a special element, and frame contemporary issues for discussion and understanding. This report was made possible through a two-year collaboration with the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies (ISEP) and the enterprising efforts of ISEP executive director Tetsunari Iida. On behalf of the REN21 Steering Committee, I would like to thank both ISEP and the German government for major financial support, along with the support of project co-sponsors. And a heartfelt thanks to report author Eric Martinot for his hard work over the past two years to provide such a remarkable synthesis of the world’s thinking on the future of renewables. The dedicated staff of the REN21 Secretariat, under the leadership of Christine Lins, supported the project, especially policy advisor Lily Riahi, who assisted in all aspects from initial concepts to final research. And finally, my sincere appreciation goes to all the inter- viewees, contributors, and reviewers for giving of their time and expertise. Anyone who reads this report cannot help but have her/his own thinking affected by the multitude of viewpoints presented here. And they will likely discover new, imaginative, and forward-looking ways to think about the future. I encourage everyone to share those views and to engage with others in forging a sustainable and renewable energy future. Mohamed El-Ashry REN21 Chairman January 2013

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