Challenges Facing Renewables

Key points

  • World population rapidly increasing
  • 53% increased energy demand by 2035
  • Food, energy and water under threat
  • Resource competition, supply and demand mismatches prevent renewables reaching full potential
Challenges Facing Renewables

Can renewables meet our growing demands?

Current projections indicate a 37% increase in world population levels by 2050. As populations expand and living standards improve, so pressure increases on water, food and fuel resources:

Water Issues: For half of the world's population, living in 88 developing countries, between 80% and 90% of all diseases and 30% of all deaths are attributed to a lack of clean water.

Energy Crisis: The International Energy Agency estimate a 53% increase in global energy demand between 2008 and 2035, with government and industry projections predicting peak oil production before 2020.

Food Security: Production is under a three-way pinch of rising fuel prices, expanding demand and falling yields from increasingly uncertain and extreme weather patterns even under the most modest climate change estimates.

The need to find viable alternative fuel and sustainable food, energy and water sources is clear and acute but renewables have yet to realise their full potential due to:

  • Resource competition: Biofuels compete with food production for water, energy and land resources.
  • Supply and demand mismatches: Demand for renewable energy seldom coincides with the timing or location of supply, requiring secondary sources to complete power markets.