World Energy Consumption of Renewable Energy

Renewable energy use is projected to increase by 53% over the forecast period; however, its share of total energy consumption is expected to remain relatively unchanged at 8 to 9% [24]. Renewable energy consumption is expected to be driven by new, large-scale hydroelectric projects, particularly in China, India, Malaysia, and other developing Asian countries, but even these projects have had their share of bad publicity. Projects in China and Malaysia have continued amidst criticism of their environmental impacts and concerns about the welfare of people being relocated to accommodate the projects [24]; similarly, a project under development in Iceland has been criticized for its environmental impact [29].

Renewable energy use will be constrained by its higher fuel and capital costs and moderate fossil fuel prices. Emissions legislation, renewable energy portfolios, and tax incentives/subsidies in the industrialized countries will increase the use of renewable energy for power generation and industrial applications for chemicals and fuel production; however, renewable energy will make only a minor contribution to the overall energy mix due to its higher fuel and equipment costs. As the hydrogen economy grows, it too has the potential to increase the use of renewable energy. This technology, however, is still in its infancy, and the production of hydrogen, which is currently made predominantly from fossil fuels (i.e., mainly natural gas), would need to rely on other sources to impact fossil fuel consumption. In fact, as the hydrogen economy grows, gasification of coal may become the leading source of hydrogen. Details of the gasification technology are provided in Chapter 5 (Technologies for Coal Utilization), and its potential to become a major fuel source is discussed in Chapter 7 (Future Power Generation), where future co-production technologies are presented.

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