05 Feb 2011
This is too cautious.
A report by the Offshore Valuation Group estimates that the practical potential of offshore generating technologies in waters around the UK is 2,131 TWh/year -- nearly six times current UK electricity demand.
In another report, the European Environment Agency estimates that the "economically competitive potential" of wind power in Europe is 3 times projected demand for electricity in 2020 and 7 times projected demand in 2030. Offshore wind power alone could meet between 60% and 70% of projected demand for electricity in 2020 and about 80% of projected demand in 2030.
A paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America shows that a network of land-based 2.5-megawatt (MW) turbines restricted to nonforested, ice-free, nonurban areas operating at as little as 20% of their rated capacity could supply more than 40 times current worldwide consumption of electricity and more than 5 times total global use of energy in all forms. There is additional potential in offshore wind farms.
Researchers at the German Aerospace Centre have calculated that, using the proven technology of concentrating solar power (CSP), less than 1% of the world's deserts could generate as much electricity as the world is using now. It is feasible and economic to transmit that electricity for 3000 km or more using low-loss HVDC transmission lines. 90% of the world's population lives within 2700 km of a desert.
Research that is reviewed in the November 2009 issue of Scientific American shows that renewable energy technologies can provide 100 percent of the world’s energy (not just electricity) and that it is technically feasible to make the transition by 2030.
There is more information in http://www.energyfair.org.uk/pren .