Renewable energy costs, potentials, barriers: Conceptual issues
Renewable energy can become the major energy supply option in low-carbon energy economies. Disruptive transformations in all energy systems are necessary for tapping widely available renewable energy resources. Organizing the energy transition from non-sustainable to renewable energy is often described as the major challenge of the first half of the 21st century. Technological innovation, the economy (costs and prices) and policies have to be aligned to achieve full renewable energy potentials, and barriers impeding that growth need to be removed. These issues are also covered by IPCC’s special report on renewable energy and climate change to be completed in 2010. This article focuses on the interrelations among the drivers. It clarifies definitions of costs and prices, and of barriers. After reviewing how the third and fourth assessment reports of IPCC cover mitigation potentials and commenting on definitions of renewable energy potentials in the literature, we propose a consistent set of potentials of renewable energy supplies.