Global energy consumption has grown to such an extent that, despite the increase in solar and wind power, energy demand is outpacing sustainable supply, President János Áder said in an interview to public radio in advance of his speech at the plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg on Wednesday afternoon.
Green energy in proportion to global energy consumption was 13.4% in 1992 and it only rose to 15.7% by 2019, Áder said. He said capacity expansion would be futile without measures to boost energy efficiency. “The cheapest and cleanest energy is that which is not produced or used,” the president said, lamenting that growing energy demand was constantly being met through capacity expansion.
One positive change, he said, is that wind and solar energy is now cheap, though, on the negative side, 770 million people can’t access electricity at all. Based on the UN’s sustainable development goals, this must be cut to zero by 2030, and the population is still growing, so large capacity expansion will be needed nonetheless, he added. Given the rise in the average temperature, air conditioning, he noted, makes up an ever greater share of energy consumption. But wasteful heating is also a problem, he said, adding that setting the thermostat a single degree lower could result in a seven percent reduction in consumption.
Áder noted that in Hungary clean energy accounts for 27% of overall energy consumption, compared with the world average of 15.7%, with nuclear energy playing a role alongside renewable energy, which in Hungary accounts for 13% — a higher ratio than in the Benelux countries. He said the capacity of solar parks in Hungary has doubled each year over the past five years. Also, under the government’s bus scheme to replace the bus fleet, 20,000 buses will have gone electric by 2030, he added. The president said solving the storage and transport of green energy was also crucially important. The Planet Budapest 2021 Sustainability Expo and Summit will provide an opportunity to showcase the solutions Hungarian, Czech, Polish and Slovak engineers have come up with to boost efficiency in energy production and use, the president added.