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Energy Efficiency Enhancing Technologies and Policy Trends around the World

Energy Efficiency Enhancing Technologies and Policy Trends around the World

LEE Won-Hee

July 17, 2008

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Originally released on May 26, 2008

In 2003, oil prices were around US$30 per barrel. Since then, oil prices have increased at an accelerating rate, peaking, so far, at US$150 per barrel this year. Some institutions even forecast that oil prices will likely be as high as US$200 per barrel by 2010. Simultaneously, the global community has drawn up global environmental regulations like the Kyoto protocol and the Post-Kyoto protocol to address issues such as climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.

The record oil prices and environmental regulations, have spurred countries into making strenuous efforts to expand their sources of fossil fuels and to diversify and develop clean energy sources. Deep-sea and polar oil fields, considered uneconomical in the past, are now being developed to increase energy supplies. Deep-sea gas hydrates have also emerged as a new source of fossil fuel. Besides the fossil fuels, new and renewable energy sources, which contributed to 18% of the world's total electricity generation in 2003, are expected to jump to 54% by 2030.

However, recent research indicates that only expanding supplies is not a viable solution to deal with the exhaustion of energy resources and global warming. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), if current energy consumption continues, the cost to develop new energy resources and infrastructure will be astronomical. The IEA forecasts that US$ 20.2 trillion will be needed for the development of energy resources and the construction of related infrastructure by 2030. An additional amount of US$ 1.2 trillion-US$ 2 trillion will be required to distribute new and renewable energies. US$ 1.5trillion - US$ 2 trillion will be needed to construct hydrogen infrastructure on the top of those mentioned above.

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