Exploring past energy changes and their implications for the pace of penetration of new energy technologies

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Possible growth paths for new electricity generation technologies are investigated on the basis of an empirical analysis of past penetration rates. Finding and understanding high market penetration scenarios is relevant to formulating climate change mitigation strategies. The analysis shows that under favorable growth conditions, photovoltaics and wind could produce 15% and 25%, respectively, of world electricity by 2050. Under the same assumptions nuclear power could increase to 41% of world electricity. But it is unlikely that all three technology paths could be realized up to these values simultaneously and therefore the penetration rates presented here should be considered as indicative only. The results show that under positive conditions, an embryonic technology could move as a preferred option into a mainstream energy source within half a century. The introduction of growth constraints reflecting, e.g., severe economic, technical, or political limitations could reduce the above numbers by a factor of up to 2-3. The results indicate a decline in the relative year-to-year growth of new technologies when they have higher market shares. A comparison of the results with other short-term and long-term technology scenarios shows satisfactory agreement. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)647-656
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • New energy technologies, Market penetration, Energy scenarios, Energy modeling, Technology diffusion, RENEWABLE ENERGY, MODEL, DIFFUSION, SUBSTITUTION, INDUSTRY, POLICIES

ID: 3208068