Australian Cleantech has released a report titled “Prosperous Sustainability” which forecasts the development of energy technologies in Australia up to 2050.

The main findings of the report include:

  • Current wind technology will maintain a high level of activity through to about 2015, after which it starts to be replaced by second generation wind technologies. There will be no further installation of current technology wind after 2022.
    Second generation wind may consist to vertical axis or Darrieus turbines or other improvements on the current large scale horizontal axis turbines. This technology is forecast to take over from the existing wind technology progressively from 2015, increasing in activity through to about 2025 but reducing to low level of ongoing activity by 2035.
  • Small-scale solar rooftop is forecast to increase in activity through to 2012 driven by feed-in tariffs. It will then reduce, finally becoming obsolete by 2020 as other solar technologies become more economic.
    Building integrated solar is forecast to continue to grow through to the end of the forecast period as applications continue to be extended from roofs and windows to a greater variety of surfaces.
  • Large scale solar concentrating is not predicted roll out until 2018 but it will be to a major component of the industry by 2050, although down from its peak in the late 2020s.
  • Geothermal is forecast to start to become significant from 2015 with an increase in the roll out in the 2030s as technology improvements increase its efficiency.
  • Wave and tidal power are expected to grow through to about 2030, after which they start to decline in importance as other technologies, with fewer mechanical parts, emerge as cheaper options. By 2050, they are seen as only having niche application in some  specific geographic situations.
  • First generation biofuels is expected to have steady activity on a global basis through to 2012, after which it will go into decline as it is replaced by gen-2 biofuels using algae and cellulosic technologies. Once these technologies have been proven, they are forecast to experience growth through to 2025 and then to remain steady for 10 years before going into decline with only niche uses of biofuels by 2050.
  • Energy efficiency and green building are forecast to be a major part of the solution and to continue to grow and innovate throughout the entire period with a continuing focus on reducing energy requirements and using more sustainable materials.
  • The smart grid is forecast to expand throughout the period with large capital projects as old grids are progressively upgraded. Widespread roll-out will begin 2012 and will significantly expand in the 2020s. There are likely to be many iterations of what is considered ‘smart’ in a grid and it is only towards the end of the forecast period that it might become fully interactive.
  • The major roll out of battery electric vehicles is expected to commence in 2012 and continue to grow throughout the forecast period.
  • Carbon equestration is forecast to have only modest activity throughout the period driven by the need for carbon offsetting projects. It is not forecast to grow as many of the other technologies will start to become cost competitive and there will consequently be a decreasing level of carbon to be offset.
  • Hydrogen, nuclear fusion and other new technologies may become significant parts of the equation after 2030.

A copy of the report may be purchased from www.auscleantech.com.au/ACT_Reports.html