IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change Uncertainties

The wide range of energy supply-related potentials in the literature is due to the many uncertainties and assumptions involved. This analysis of the costs and mitigation potential for energy-supply technologies through to 2030 involved the following degrees of confidence.

  • There is high agreement on the energy types and amounts of current global and regional energy sources used in the baseline (with the exception of traditional biomass, for which data are uncertain) because the several sources of those estimates are in close agreement.
  • There is high agreement that energy supply will grow between now and 2030 with medium confidence in projections of the total energy demand by 2030. Most assumptions about population and energy use in various scenarios do not diverge greatly until after 2030, although past experience suggests that projections, even over a 25-year period, can be erroneous.
  • Estimates of specific potentials out to 2030 for electricity-supply technologies based on specific studies have only low agreement that a single value can be estimated accurately. However, there is medium confidence that the true potential of a mixture of supply technologies lies somewhere within the range estimated.
  • The actual distribution of new technologies in 2030 can be estimated with medium confidence by using trend analyses, technology assessments, economic models and other techniques, but cannot take into account changing national policies and preferences, future carbon-price factors, and the unanticipated evolution of technologies or their cost. Current rates of adoption for particular technologies have been identified but there is low to medium agreement that these rates may continue until 2030.
  • Despite the methodological limitations, the future costs and technical potentials identified provide a medium confidence for considering strategies and decisions over the next several decades. The analysis falls within the range of other projections for specific technologies.