Transition to low carbon future takes decades

The transition to a low-carbon and renewable energy future could take decades, and require changes in the electricity industry, a new study says.

The report, presented at IHS CERAWEEK 2013, an international conference on energy issues, examined major energy transitions over the past 250 years. It also analyzed the factors that may drive changes in the energy mix in the coming decades.

The world’s biggest challenge now is to meet the rapidly growing energy demand from the developing countries, including 1.3 billion people that still do not have access to modern sources of energy.

However, the study said a majority of the world primary energy demand is met by oil, coal and natural gas, while wind energy, solar power and other renewable resources provide only 1.6 percent.

“Although overall consumption will grow and the share of low-carbon and no-carbon sources will also grow significantly, the energy mix in 2030 will not be too different from what it is today,” said Daniel Yergin, IHS vice chairman and author of the report.

The transition to low-carbon and renewable sources would still require a fundamental shift in the electricity system, the study said.

Sources such as wind power, solar energy and biomass have less energy density than other sources, thus the system has invest heavily in transmission infrastructure.