Expenditure on research and development

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In many industrialized countries the majority of the expenditure on energy research and development (R&D) has been spent on nuclear power during the past few decades. Even today, the highest budgets are allocated for nuclear

Table 6.9 Expenditure of the German Government on Energy Research and Development in Millions of Euros

Period

1956-1988

1989-2002

Coal and other fossil energy sources

1907

340

Nuclear power

18,855

5384

Renewables and conservation

1577

1897

Source: Quaschning, 2003

Source: Quaschning, 2003

Figure 6.5 IEA Total Reported Government Energy Technology R&D Budgets for 1974 and 1998

Source: data from IEA, 2003

Figure 6.5 IEA Total Reported Government Energy Technology R&D Budgets for 1974 and 1998

power, both nuclear fusion and fission. Table 6.9 shows the R&D expenditure of the German government since 1954 as an example.

The situation is similar in many other IEA countries. Figure 6.5 shows the IEA total reported government energy R&D budgets of the years 1974 and 1998. The majority of the R&D expenditure of the past few decades has also been spent on nuclear energy in these statistics. Even today, nearly half of the total R&D budget is allocated for nuclear energy. Before the mid-1970s there was almost no R&D budget for renewables. Since the oil crises and the Chernobyl nuclear accident, renewable energy budgets have increased; however, they were still rather low compared to the nuclear energy budgets at the end of the 1990s.

This unequal research policy causes a distortion of competition, mainly to the benefit of nuclear power. If the enormous R&D budgets for nuclear power had been spent on renewables, their costs would be much lower today and they could very probably compete in the global energy market without any other further subsidies.

Table 6.10 Natural Disasters and Economic Losses

Decade 1950-59

1960-69

1970-79

1980-89

1990-99

Number 20

27

47

63

89

Economic losses in billion US$2001 42.2

75.7

136.1

211.3

652.3

Insured losses in billion US$2001 ---

7.2

12.4

26.4

123.2

Source: Munich Re, 2003

Source: Munich Re, 2003

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Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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