Only four industries were on track in 2017 to meet long-term climate goals, the International Energy Agency has said.

The Paris-based global body surveyed technologies or areas that need to go green, such as chemicals or aluminium industries, and found that only four passed muster — solar PV, lighting (LED), electric vehicles and data centres. All others, including onshore wind and energy storage, were short of what they ought to have done by that year. The number of areas that “need improvement” is 23.

5 areas evaluated

The IEA looked for progress in five broad areas — power, building, transport, industry and energy integration — and was largely disappointed. Under the head ‘power’, only solar PV had done satisfactorily, with solar power generation growing 34 per cent in 2017 compared with the required run rate of 17 per cent up to 2030. The IEA report said that electricity production from all solar power plants was 416 TWhr, or 2 per cent of world’s electricity generation.

(According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, the world’s solar power capacity at the end of 2017 stood at 397 GW, and other reports estimate that 98 GW had come up in 2017.)

The IEA report appreciated the 54 per cent rise in electricity vehicles seen in 2017, a year when 1.1 million electric cars were sold, leading to a global stock of 3 million. With 370,000 buses and 250 million two-wheelers, ‘electric vehicles’ are doing their bit for combating climate change; electric cars should account for 14 per cent of the global car fleet by 2030 from 1 per cent in 2017.

Driven by LEDs, the performance of the ‘lighting’ segment is also consistent with the needs for fighting climate change. LEDs have seized a third of the market for lighting, and the efficacy of LED bulbs has been increasing, IEA said.

Kudos for India

The report praises India for its pioneering effort in promoting LED use and holds the country up as an example to others. “Recent trends in India suggest that there is a major potential to deploy LEDs rapidly on a large scale, if the right financing and market mechanisms are in place,” it said.

India is now the biggest market for LEDs, thanks to the Ujala programme, which uses bulk procurement to offer bulbs to get the prices down. “Nearly 300 million LED lamps have been sold since 2015, out of the targeted 770 million by March 2019,” the report noted. (According to the Ujala dashboard, over 300 million LED bulbs have been sold so far, leading to annual energy saving of 39 billion units of electricity.)

Then comes data centres and networks, one of the major consumers of power. Data centres consumed 194 TWhr of electricity in 2014, and data networks another 185 TWhr, each accounting for per cent of global electricity consumption. “Although data centre workload is forecast to triple by 2020, related energy demand is expected to grow only by 3 per cent, thanks to continued efficiency gains,” says IEA. It notes that the hyperscale data centres, such as those run by Amazon, Alibaba and Google, are very efficient.

Others fail

Save these four areas, performance of all other sectors has failed to measure up. They include a range of technologies such as onshore and offshore wind, geothermal, carbon capture and sequestration, ocean energies, building envelopes, heating and cooling in buildings, fuel economy in vehicles, aviation, shipping and railways, energy storage and smart grids.

Red flag

Incidentally, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has been warning year after year through its Emissions Gap Reports that the world’s efforts today would lead to the planet warming way more than the “2 degrees” target (by 2100, measured from the average temperatures of the pre-industrialisation period of mid-18th century.)