Can green energy solutions thwart Exxon’s gloomy outlook?

Can green energy solutions thwart Exxon’s gloomy outlook?Even with advances in green energy technology, fossil fuels still are needed to meet most of the world’s energy demand, and, according to ExxonMobil, will continue do so in the foreseeable future. ExxonMobil also forecasts that carbon dioxide emissions will rise significantly in the next 20 years. But all is not doom and gloom: a new study concludes that existing green energy solutions could reduce energy demand by 85%.

In spite of the latest development in wind, solar, and biofuels technologies, fossil fuels are still required to supply most of the world’s energy needs. ExxonMobil predicts that the demand for energy will increase by 40% in the next two decades, and that fossil fuels will be needed for 80% of that demand. The company also expects that by 2030 carbon dioxide emissions will not decline, or even level out, but rather will climb by 25%. Such a rise would greatly increase the probability of catastrophic climate change.

Contrasting ExxonMobil’s gloomy outlook is a study recently conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Cambridge. Instead of looking at energy supply, they evaluated how existing green technologies could be used to reduced energy usage. The study concluded that employing passive design principles and energy saving devices could reduce world energy demand by 85%. Most of the savings would come from using passive building techniques, which includes installing airtight structures and mechanical ventilation systems that exchange heat from stale exhaust air with incoming fresh air. Passive techniques have been shown to reduce building energy costs by nearly 90%. Best of all, these energy efficient technologies exist – and are in use – today.

So why aren’t more houses built with passive design techniques? Because existing polices and tax credits are mostly based on the paradigm of cheap energy from fossil fuel. Different regulations and incentives are needed to tap this huge energy-saving potential, and to stave off ExxonMobil’s gloomy forecast.