Worldwatch Institute

Mainstreaming Renewable Energy in the 21st Century

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Recent surges in gasoline prices and deepening instability in the Middle East are reminders that the world's heavy dependence on fossil fuels carries an array of hidden costs, including energy insecurity and damage to human health and the natural environment.

Fortunately, more and more nations are recognizing that they can address these problems by investing in renewable energy. Solar and wind power are the world's fastest growing energy sources, and investors are pouring billions of dollars into these industries every year. Around the world, a growing number of nations have recognized the economic, social, and environmental benefits of renewable energy, and are enacting tax incentives and other policy measures favorable to renewable technologies. In Germany, Japan, Spain, and a handful of other countries, clear government commitments to renewable energy and strong, effective policies have overcome barriers and created demand for these technologies, leading to dramatic growth in renewables industries and driving down costs.

If these countries stay the course and others continue to join the renewables bandwagon, they will end up not only with cleaner and more efficient energy systems, but will also reap economic rewards in the form of new industries and jobs.

Authors / Editors:
Price:
$9.95
Print ISSN:
1-878071-73-4
Launch:
May 2004

Fortunately, more and more nations are recognizing that they can address these problems by investing in renewable energy. Solar and wind power are the world`s fastest growing energy sources, and investors are pouring billions of dollars into these industries every year. Around the world, a growing number of nations have recognized the economic, social, and environmental benefits of renewable energy, and are enacting tax incentives and other policy measures favorable to renewable technologies. In Germany, Japan, Spain, and a handful of other countries, clear government commitments to renewable energy and strong, effective policies have overcome barriers and created demand for these technologies, leading to dramatic growth in renewables industries and driving down costs.

If these countries stay the course and others continue to join the renewables bandwagon, they will end up not only with cleaner and more efficient energy systems, but will also reap economic rewards in the form of new industries

Summary
Introduction
The Approaching Train Wreck--and How To Avoid It
Technology and Market Development
Two Success Stories: Germany and Japan
Policy Lessons From Around the World
Changing Government Approaches to Energy Policy
Unlocking Our Energy Future
Endnotes
Index
Figure 1: World Energy Use by Source, 2000
Figure 2: World Electricity Generation by Type, 2001
Figure 3: Average Annual Increase in Installed Capacity, 1993–2003
Figure 4: Cumulative Global Wind Capacity, 1990–2003
Figure 5: Cumulative Global Photovoltaic Production, 1990–2003
Figure 6: Wind Power Capacity Additions in Germany, Spain, and the United States, 1980–2003
Figure 7: Photovoltaic Capacity Additions in Japan, Germany, and the United States, 1993–2003
Table 1: Costs of Electricity With and Without External Costs
Table 2: Global Renewable Resource Base (Exajoules/year)
Table 3: Renewable Energy Targets and Recent Totals in Selected Countries/Regions
Sidebar 1: Examples of Advances in Wind Technology
Sidebar 2: The Solar Race
Sidebar 3: Public Benefit Funds and Bond Initiatives
Sidebar 4: Forging a New Energy Future

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