Renewable energy sources are back in favor due to the recent surge in world oil prices but they still have a long way to go to capture a major share of the energy production market. Wind turbines, wave technology, solar panels, hydroelectric power stations, fuel cells and biomass plants account for just 14% of the energy consumed in the world today, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
This compares to 6% for nuclear power and a massive 80% for fossil fuels -- oil, coal and gas -- which in addition to becoming scarce and increasingly pricy are also the major producers of the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. "The real problem is that neither renewable energy sources nor nuclear are able, on their own, to tackle the problem posed by carbon gas emissions and the depletion of fossil resources," says Andre Antolini, head of the Renewable Energies Union in France. "(We need to) develop all sources of energy that don't produce greenhouse gases or deplete fossil fuels and, at the same time, introduce genuine energy-management and energy-saving policies."
The 25-nation EU currently relies on oil for 41% of its energy consumption, on gas for 23%. Coal and nuclear each provide 15% of the bloc's power and renewable energy sources just 6%.
The EU -- which is in the forefront of global efforts to curb global warming and is concerned about its heavy reliance on oil and gas from the Middle East and Russia -- is seeking to double the share of renewable energy sources in the bloc's energy consumption to 12% by 2010.
The IEA hopes to encourage its 26 member states to invest more in research and development on renewable energy sources. Between 1987 and 2003, these renewable sources accounted for only 7.6% of these 26 nations' energy research budget. And 67.8% of that small amount was provided by just three countries -- Germany, Japan and the U.S.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006