World should double renewable energy by 2030: U.N.

OSLO Thu Jun 2, 2011 4:46pm EDT

OSLO (Reuters) - The world should more than double reliance on renewable energy by 2030 as part of goals to slow climate change in a drive that will need strong backing from the private sector, a senior U.N. official said on Thursday.

"The new goal is to have 30 percent of energy supplies from renewable sources by 2030," Kandeh Yumkella, head of the U.N. Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), told Reuters in a telephone interview.

About 13 percent of energy used now comes from renewable sources, mostly firewood burned in developing nations where many people lack electricity for needs such as lighting or heating. Hydro, wind, geothermal and solar power play smaller roles.

The renewables target would add to a U.N. drive to widen supplies of electricity to everyone by 2030 -- about 2.5 billion people now have little or no access -- and to improve world energy efficiency by 40 percent by 2030, he said.

The push, to be known as the "30/30/30" goals, would be part of efforts to end poverty in developing nations and to combat global warming that the U.N. panel of experts says will bring more heatwaves, droughts, mudslides and rising sea levels.

Yumkella, chair of U.N.-Energy which coordinates energy work by U.N. agencies, also praised a drive for partnerships between the public and private sectors outlined on Thursday. "Without good public-private platforms we can't do this," he said.

"Our dream is that we get a pledge of maybe 40 billion or more by the middle of next year for these goals from private companies," he said.

EARTH SUMMIT

Yumkella said that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon would formally launch the 2030 energy goals this year, aiming for adoption by world leaders at a once-a-decade Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 as part of a shift to a green economy.

It was unclear what it would cost to widen renewable energy use to 30 percent of all energy by 2030, he said.

Earlier estimates show that ensuring access to electricity for all by 2030 would require an extra $35 to $40 billion of capital every year.

Boosting energy efficiency by 40 percent by 2030 need $30 to $35 billion a year for the poorest nations, and $140 to $170 billion a year for middle income countries.

Last month, the U.N. panel of climate scientists said the world could get up to almost 80 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2050, with the right policies to shift from fossil fuels such as coal and oil.

"My proposal is: 'what can we achieve in the next 20 years?'. Based on the analysis we have done it is possible to have 30 percent (of renewables) by 2030," Yumkella said.

He praised the alliance to raise public-pivate energy investments involving the world's biggest utilities such as American Electric Power (AEP) in the non-profit Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership.

Among successful projects were an 86-kilowatt hydroelectric station in Patagonia, Argentina, to provide power to the rural community of Cochico, and a wind and diesel hybrid system of the same size to supply the village of Chorriaca.

Duke Energy helped lead the private investments in the Patagonia projects. Johane Meagher, Executive Director of the non-profit partnership, said that the Patagonia examples could be models for electricity in other parts of the world.

Companies say governments need predictable policies to attract investment. "Stability of policies is critical," said Paul Loeffelman, Head of International Cooperation Affairs at AEP.

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