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Copenhagen Consensus Center

Post-2015 Consensus: Energy Viewpoint, Mashele

Viewpoint Paper

Mashele (DBSA) looks at the various targets proposed against the current trends in energy capacity and investment. The seven emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Mexico and Indonesia currently account for one-third of global generating capacity, but will see 49% of global new installed capacity by 2020. Most capacity is coal-fired, but the share of renewables is increasing. 76% of the 211 energy projects concluded globally in 2012 were for renewables, indicating that the target of doubling the share of renewable energy is not only achievable but can be surpassed, especially in developing countries.

Mashele concludes that conventional technologies are still more expensive, since the 24% of projects takes 43% of the total spending. She believes that they are inherently more expensive because they generally produce far more capacity than renewables and have high capital costs. The phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies was not covered adequately in the assessment paper, but is actually not currently a viable option for most developing countries. A major criticism of the paper relates to the costs renewables are adding to economies as electricity prices are rising. Renewables are often subsidised and the costs passed to consumers, and this is leading Germany and Japan for example to reconsider coal and nuclear technology.

To achieve the key goals of universal energy access, doubled energy efficiency, doubling the share of renewables and increased R&D, governments need to implement bold policies and take decisions based on their developmental impact as well as the return on capital.