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International Energy Agency Releases 2013 Tracking Clean Energy Progress Report

17 Apr 2013

Today, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released Tracking Clean Energy Progress 2013 at the fourth Clean Energy Ministerial in New Delhi. The report examines the latest global development and deployment of 11 clean energy technologies and end-use sectors, and it provides specific recommendations to governments on how to scale up deployment of these key technologies.

Each technology and sector is tracked against interim 2020 targets in the IEA 2012 Energy Technology Perspectives 2°C scenario (ETP 2DS), which lays out pathways to achieving a sustainable energy system by 2050. The report also introduces the IEA’s Energy Sector Carbon Intensity Index (ESCII), which shows the carbon emitted for each unit of energy used and provides a cumulative overview of progress in the energy sector since 1970.

Key Findings

Stark messages emerge:

  • Progress has not been fast enough; the world is not on track to realize the interim 2020 targets in the ETP 2DS.
  • The global energy supply is not getting cleaner. Coal technologies continue to dominate growth in power generation, and the dependence on coal for economic growth is particularly strong in emerging economies.
  • Large market failures are preventing the adoption of clean energy solutions.
  • Considerable energy efficiency potential remains untapped.
  • Policies need to better address the energy system as a whole.
  • Energy-related research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) needs to accelerate.
  • More effort is needed in industry, buildings, and systems integration.
  • Public investments in energy RD&D must at least triple; the energy share of research budgets remains low.
  • The poor quality and availability of data are serious constraints in tracking and assessing progress.

In addition, the ESCII data shows that the carbon intensity of the global energy supply has barely changed in 20 years. The amount of carbon dioxide emitted for each unit of energy supplied has fallen by less than 1% since 1990, largely because coal technologies continue to dominate growth in power generation.

Alongside these grim conclusions, there is positive news:
  • Renewable power technologies continued to grow in 2012. Mature technologies—including solar photovoltaic, onshore wind, biomass, and hydropower—were the most dynamic and are largely on track to meet their 2DS targets.
  • The costs of most clean energy technologies fell more rapidly than anticipated.
  • Many countries, including emerging economies, introduced or strengthened energy efficiency regulations in 2012.
  • A window of opportunity is opening in transport: sales of hybrid-electric vehicles passed the 1 million mark, and fuel economy improvements are accelerating where implementation of fuel economy standards and other policy measures has been scaled up.

Recommendations

The report makes several high-level recommendations for governments to accelerate the deployment of clean energy technologies:
  • Make more ambitious efforts to deepen international collaboration on clean energy deployment.
  • Set clear and ambitious clean energy technology goals, underpinned by stringent and credible policies.
  • Reflect the true cost of energy in consumer prices and implement long-term, predictable policies that will encourage investors to switch to low-carbon technologies.
  • Ensure that policies address the entire energy system and take a long-term view.
  • Implement stronger economic incentives and more ambitious regulation to unleash the potential of energy efficiency.
  • Accelerate RD&D support, enhancing investment in RD&D for new clean energy technologies and doubling its share in public budgets.

Specific policy recommendations for each of the 11 clean energy technology and end-use sectors are also included in the report.

Visit www.iea.org/etp/tracking for interactive data visualization tools, additional data, and presentations. The figures that appear in the report—and the data behind them—are also available for download free of charge.