Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

The OECD is a conglomeration of national governments that works to promote policies that improve economic well-being of people around the world. The organization has its foundation in the 1947 establishment of the Organization for European Economic Cooperation. It gained its current title in 1961, is headquartered in Paris, France, and has 34 member countries at this point.

Its early focus was on rebuilding Europe after World War II, but now focuses on connecting nations and coordinating efforts to establish global economic prosperity. They currently work on issues range from fisheries to corruption to green energy and focus on how such topics affect economic prosperity and opportunity.

Green Energy as Economic Driver

Because the introduction of green technology into energy production has the potential to create a large number of high paying, high skill jobs, there is a great deal of economic gain to be had. The OECD has partnered with the International Energy Agency to develop policies that promote technologies that are good for the environment, good for energy security, and good for the economy. The OECD/IEA joint venture has undertaken a great deal of research to help guide member countries and the world as a whole in the development of “green economies.”

Green Growth Studies: Energy

This is the title of the report that details the challenges facing energy producers and users, and which offers strategies for using green growth policies. The study looks at broad categories that include how to transform the energy sector for sustainable growth, how to promote green technology, how to implement green energy, and how to quantify and monitor progress in the above three categories.

The major points of the “Green Growth Studies: Energy” are as follows:

  • The global energy sector can be transformed on a large scale to reduce emissions by half by the year 2050
    • The investment to achieve this goal is estimated at U.S. $46 trillion over that time period
    • Every dollar invested in green energy now will save U.S. $ 4.3 dollars compared to investing in 2020
  • The world economy is projected to use 80% more energy in 2050 than currently
    • This would double carbon dioxide emissions if there is no change in technology
    • Energy use is highly inefficient in its current forms
    • Transport accounts for 20% of global energy use and 25% of carbon emissions
    • Renewable sources of energy can make up about 26% of all energy sources by 2050 with aggressive policy changes
  • Keys to biofuel growth include
    • Integrating biofuel development with larger supply chains that already exist
    • Avoiding imposing specifics on types of renewable
    • Subsidy reform to limit the amounts and durations of subsidies in all areas of the energy sector
    • Focus on education for sustainable development

The 2012 “Technology Roadmaps: BioEnergy for Heat and Power” was another study undertaken by the OECD, which focused exclusively on bioenergy. It contained the following findings and recommendations.

  • Long Term Goals and Recommendations
    • Bioenergy will supply roughly 160 ExaJoules of energy by 2050, or triple what it does today
    • Bioenergy could supply as much as 7.5% of world electricity generation and 15% of total needed heating by 2050
    • Careful planning could save 1.3 gigatons of carbon emissions per year by 2050
    • Investment in bioenergy electricity generation needs to be on the order of U.S. $500 billion in generating facilities and U.S. $ 7-14 trillion in feedstock over the next forty years to achieve the above goals
  • Goals and Recommendations for the next 10 years
    • Development of stable, long-term policy frameworks for bioenergy
    • Introduction of efficient support structure
    • Increased R& D in feedstock and land suitability mapping
    • Replacement of traditional biomass with advanced alternatives
    • Support of pilot and demonstration projects
    • Support of international collaborations, sustainability criteria, and assessment methods

 

The one thing that should stand out from all of these statistics and recommendations is that the vast majority of the cost of biofuel electricity production (and consequently fuel and heat production as well) results from investments in the growth and harvesting of feedstock and not in the generation infrastructure itself. This is why the OECD supports international research into sustainable, carbon-neutral feedstock development so that the world can meet its energy demands by 2050. Despite greenhouse gas emissions, bioenergy still the best known, largest source renewable energy known to humanity.

OECD Green Growth Studies: Food and Agriculture

This study by the OECD focuses on agriculture and food production on a very large scale. Topics range from climate change to water availability to energy production and fertilizer use. Of relevance to biofuels and bioenergy are the following findings and recommendations from the report.

  • Green energy has opportunity costs
    • Feedstock growth reduces land available for food growth and increases food prices
    • New land cultivation has greenhouse gas emission penalties
  • Renewable feedstock energies need to be accepted by consumers before becoming viable
  • If agricultural food production per area of land does not increase above current levels, there is little expectation that biofuels can be grown in any significant quantity without putting food at risk.
  • The Netherlands is one of the global leaders in crop production, even though it is one of the smallest countries in Europe
    • The Dutch are years ahead in the development of sustainable agricultural practices that provide high output with decreased use of pesticide and fertilizer
    • The country has focused heavily on increasing the efficiency of agricultural production by decreasing energy investment, a key component of making biofuels viable and more environmentally palatable

 

Conclusion

Some of the advantages of the OECD are clearly demonstrated in the findings of this publication. Access to international data and the funds to analyze it allow the OECD to focus on countries and areas of the world that have already begun to address problems that are looming large on the horizon. The example the Dutch and their innovative farming methods is but one of the many ways in with the OECD brings the international community together in ways benefit the entire planet.