Al Arabiya with Agencies

Renewable power from the sun, wind, water and biomass can generate a major portion of the planet’s energy supply by 2050, according to a draft United Nations report obtained by Agence-France Presse.

Renewables have the potential to bring power to the world’s poorest regions, boost energy security for nations dependent on imports, and curb the carbon dioxide emissions that fuel global warming, the draft said.

The 30-page “summary for policy makers”—boiled down from 1,500 pages—is being vetted at a May 5-13 meeting of the 194-nation Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) in Abu Dhabi, and will be unveiled Monday.

“The final version is likely to be substantially different in wording and perhaps somewhat in emphasis, but not a great deal in substance,” said an industry representative.

By far the most comprehensive UN assessment of the status and potential for the clean energy sector, the report weighs 164 separate development scenarios.

Six types of renewables accounted in 2008 for 12.9 percent of global energy supply: biomass (10.2 percent), hydropower (2.3 percent), wind (0.2 percent), solar (0.1 percent), geothermal (0.1 percent) and ocean (0.002 percent).

The report says there is virtually unlimited technical potential for renewables, with much of it coming from solar energy.

Drafted before the Fukushima plant meltdown in Japan undercut the so-called nuclear renaissance, the summary said renewables will likely make a higher contribution to low-carbon energy supply by mid-century than nuclear energy and carbon capture and storage (CCS) combined.

Overall, a majority of projections reviewed show a “substantial increase”—ranging from 3-to-20 fold—“in the deployment of renewable energy by 2030, 2050 and beyond.”

Clean sources of power must play a critical role if the UN-backed goal of preventing average global temperatures from rising more than 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) is to be met, the IPCC said.

Currently, use of fossil fuels in the energy system accounts for some 60 percent of all greenhouse gases.
“Renewable energy can help decouple development and rising emissions, contributing to sustainable development,” the draft summary said.

Global cumulative CO2 “savings” between 2010 and 2050 will total 220 to 560 gigatonnes (Gt) off a projected accumulation from fossil fuel sources of 1,530 Gt over the same period, according to various scenarios.

The IPCC meeting has set aside four days to review every line of text in the summary.

“Abu Dhabi is investing so heavily and responsibly in renewable energy. It is fast becoming the renewable energy center of gravity. It gives me a great sense of pride to have been someone who followed this progress since the beginning. I believe we will see even more innovation and engagement from Abu Dhabi in the future,” Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, Chairman of the IPCC, said.

So far, the IPCC has produced four assessment reports. The IPCC 4th Assessment Report (AR4) resulted in the awarding of a Nobel Peace Prize to the former Vice President of the United States, Al Gore, and the IPCC for their “efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about manmade climate change, and to lay the foundation for the measures that are needed to counteract such change,” Dr. Pachauri added.

The publication of the fifth assessment report is due in 2012.

(Ikram Al Yacoub of Al Arabiya can be reached at: