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Energy Technologies Scenarios to 2050

1. Introduction: What challenges is the energy sector facing?

    The source document for this Digest states:

    Oil demand continues to increase steadily
    Oil demand continues to increase steadily


    We are facing serious challenges in the energy sector. The global economy is set to grow four-fold between now and 2050 and growth could approach ten-fold in developing countries like China and India. This promises economic benefits and huge improvements in people’s standards of living, but also involves much more use of energy. Unsustainable pressure on natural resources and on the environment is inevitable if energy demand is not de-coupled from economic growth and fossil fuel demand reduced.

    The situation is getting worse. Since the 2006 edition of Energy Technology Perspectives (ETP), global CO2 emissions and oil demand have increased steadily. At 7% above our previous outlook, today’s best estimates under our “business-as-usual” Baseline scenario foreshadow a 70% increase in oil demand by 2050 and a 130% rise in CO2 emissions. That is, in the absence of policy change and major supply constraints. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a rise in CO2 emissions of such magnitude could raise global average temperatures by 6°C (eventual stabilisation level), perhaps more. The consequences would be significant change in all aspects of life and irreversible change in the natural environment.

    A global revolution is needed in ways that energy is supplied and used. Far greater energy efficiency is a core requirement. Renewables, nuclear power, and CO2 capture and storage (CCS) must be deployed on a massive scale, and carbon-free transport developed. A dramatic shift is needed in government policies, notably creating a higher level of long-term policy certainty over future demand for low carbon technologies, upon which industry’s decision makers can rely. Unprecedented levels of co-operation among all major economies will also be crucial, bearing in mind that less than one-third of “business-as-usual” global emissions in 2050 are expected to stem from OECD countries.

    In short, the global energy economy will need to be transformed over the coming decades. The aim of this book is to explain how. It presents an in-depth review of the status and outlook for existing and advanced clean energy technologies, offering scenario analysis of how a mix of these technologies can make the difference. This edition of Energy Technology Perspectives also offers global roadmaps of the 17 technologies that we believe can make the largest contributions, showing what action is needed to realise their full potential, and when.

    Our scenario analysis deals solely with energy-related CO2 emissions, which account for most of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. However, the ultimate climate change effect of reductions in energy-related emissions will depend, to some degree, on whether other emissions can be reduced similarly. Therefore a chapter on methane, another important greenhouse gas, is included. The analysis presented here draws on modelling work within the IEA Secretariat and expertise from the IEA international energy technology collaboration network. Energy Technology Perspectives is a companion to the IEA World Energy Outlook 2007, taking the same Baseline scenario to 2030 and extending it to 2050. The present study carries forward the analysis contained in the 2006 edition of ETP, in the light of the IPCC 4th Assessment Report released in November 2007.

    Several different scenarios are presented. The set of ETP 2008 “ACT Scenarios” shows how global CO2 emissions could be brought back to current levels by 2050. The set of ETP 2008 “BLUE Scenarios” targets a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050. This summary focuses on just one scenario from each set, the ACT Map and the BLUE Map.

    Source & ©: IEA,  Energy Technology Perspectives 2008 :
    Scenarios and strategies to 2050. Executive Summary. (2008)
    , Introduction, p.1-2.

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