Arquivo de etiquetas: RDD&D

Deep Decarbonization Pathways: Country Case Studies III

What We Learn From Countries’ Deep Decarbonization Pathways

In the previous chapter I described briefly some of the key elements of the methodology we adopted in the deep decarbonization pathways project. In this chapter, we’re going to look at some of the results now.

So what we learned from the analysis of the 15 research teams of their respective countries’ pathways to deep decarbonization.731

Well first and, and very importantly, so let me pause a moment on that. Their results show that deep decarbonization is feasible. It’s a very important result. It shows that we can avoid dangerous climate change if we take strong and early action to reduce greenhouse gases emissions, if we invest heavily and rapidly also into some of the key pre-commercial low carbon technologies that are critical to achieve deep decarbonization at relatively low cost.

And also if we more profoundly reorient our development trajectory. I must say that the DDPP is still at an early stage. We have much more research and analysis and I hope good results coming in the upcoming months or even years. So far the country research teams have only produced a first set of interim results.

732So the precise level of emission reductions that is reached by the different pathways and that I’m going to show you is in many ways less meaningful than simply their order of magnitude. So that’s what I want you to concentrate on.

The order of magnitude of emission reductions achieved by these pathways is very substantial. As you can see on this graph, it represents an absolute decrease of emissions by 45% in 2050 compared to the level of emissions in the same 15 countries in 2010. As you can see on this other graph, it also represents a 56% decrease in emissions per capita and even an 88%, so very close to 90% decrease in emissions per unit of GDP. So the CO2 energy-related emissions divided by the GDP in 2050 compared to the level in 2010. Let’s look more closely at some of the results sector by sector.

The results also show the pivotal role played by electricity in the deep decarbonization strategies of all 15 countries. In aggregate across the 15 countries the carbon intensity of electricity, so the ratio in between the CO2 emissions and the electricity generated, measured in kilowatt hour is reduced by a stunning 94% in 2050 compared to 2010. So that’s a huge number. It means that by 2050, really electricity is almost completely decarbonized in these 15 countries taken together.

733As you can see on the graph, the carbon intensity of power generation goes from a bit more than 600 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour in 2010 to approximately 30 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour in 2050. So it’s really, really a huge drop and it means as I said, that essentially electricity is almost zero carbon by 2050.

That’s why electricity plays such a pivotal role in the deep decarbonization strategy, but it’s not the only one. There is another explanation and it’s because in the meantime electricity plays an increasing role in the energy system. A higher share of the electricity consumption is met through electricity as opposed to other energy carriers.

734As you can see on the graph, the share of electricity in final energy consumption increases from 19% to 35% in 2050 compared to 2010. But that was for the results in aggregate, so making averages across countries or looking at the total out of the 15 countries. But what is especially interesting is that the results also show the different options that are available to the different countries, in particular, to reach that common goal of the deep decarbonization of power generation, electricity supply.

It’s true that by 2050 all countries generate electricity almost exclusively through zero or very low carbon energy sources, but they rely on very different options to be frank to do this, as you can see on this graph. So let me just pick a few examples. Australia, Mexico, South Africa and South Korea, for example, rely heavily on solar energy as part of their power mix.

735It can be different types by the way of solar energy. It can be solar photovoltaic, or it can be concentrated solar power. It can be centralized solar energy or decentralized solar energy. But all of these countries have a very high share of their electricity that is coming from solar energy by 2050 in the pathways and developed by the research teams. Wind power plays a very important role in Canada, in China, in France, in Germany, in India, in Japan and also in the United States, where there is a significant potential for wind power that can be tapped into.

Hydropower plays a very important role in Brazil and Canada, also because there are large and sometimes still untapped resources of hydropower in these countries. Nuclear on the other hand represents a significant fraction of power production in many countries, France, the U.K., China, India, the U.S., and Russia. It plays a very little role, but, but still a role in some other countries such as Brazil and Canada and Indonesia, Mexico and South Africa. And CCS, very importantly, also plays a role in some of these scenarios.

Remember as we have discussed in the previous lecture, CCS is not yet deployed at scale, even though each and every element of the technology is a proven technology, but in the project we’ve made the assumption that as a result of a strong and sustained effort on research and development, CCS could become available and in fact many of the countries in the project with high shares of fossil fuels, so coal or gas in their power generation today felt like it was an important element of their decarbonization strategy going forward.

So you find carbon capture and sequestration in the scenarios that were developed by Canada, by China, by Indonesia, by Japan, by Mexico, by Russia, or the U.K. and the U.S. I want to mention here that these pathways and their results are of course only illustrative. I mean they shouldn’t be confused with the precise reality of what is going to happen in these countries or even what should happen in these countries, because there are many different ways in which the deep Decarbonization of power generation in particular can be achieved at the national level.

For example, in the project, the team producing the pathway for the U.S. developed not just one but three different pathways. Within the different pathways, higher shares of renewable energies for one or nuclear for the other or fossil fuels with CCS for the third pathway. And it’s very important to recognize that the most effective but also cost efficient way of achieving deep decarbonization is of subject to debates.

736First within the expert community. We had disagreements first. We tried to settle in the project, but it should also of course be the topic not only for an expert discussion but it should become the basis for a political debate within each country and each society.

So for sure, there are different options, different trajectories to deep Decarbonization in the future. But it is absolutely critical that these debates happen on the basis of detailed road maps for the deep decarbonization of the power sector, but also of the economy more broadly.

These detailed road maps need to be based on transparent assumptions regarding the availability of some pre-commercial technologies.

  • They need to be based on transparent assumptions regarding the projected cost of these technologies.
  • Also, transparent assumptions regarding their resource requirements. I mean how much water do we need to use? Or, how much land do we need to use to operate these technologies?
  • And also transparent assumptions regarding their possible side environmental and health impacts.

There are really important choices to be made regarding the best options for deep Decarbonization based on considerations regarding economic competitiveness, energy security or public preferences.

But these choices need to be made within the constraints of a global carbon budget to stay within 2-degree of global warming. The result of the pathway analysis also reveals in which sectors the emission reductions are relatively at least most difficult to achieve. Because in total, if the 15 pathways achieve an absolute reduction of CO2 energy emissions, the share of the emissions of some sectors and in particular the share of emissions from transport and industry is increasing in the pathways taken collectively.

737The analysis reveals that within the transport sector it is the emissions from freight as opposed to passenger transport which are again relatively more difficult to decarbonize.

As we have discussed, there are lots of different technological options to achieve the deep decarbonization of the freight and heavy industry sectors. Natural gas, electric hybrid, and hydrogen and fuel cells powered trucks. Biofuels or synthesized fuels for air and ocean shipping. Electrification of heating processes but also carbon capture and sequestration maybe for industry.

But it’s true that the feasibility and the scalability of these options is sometimes still uncertain and their costs are also likely to be quite high. And this is why some of the teams in some countries found it difficult to build in these technologies in their decarbonization model.

So to conclude this chapter, the pathway analysis that was developed by each of the country research teams and although their only at an interim phase at this stage, they already provide lots of very interesting insights on the country’s specific challenges of deep decarbonization, but also and most importantly the possible solutions to them. We will revise the analysis in the coming months.

We will for sure explore the potential for even deeper emission reductions because we’re not completely there yet. We will test the robustness of the analysis, add some new dimensions such as infrastructure stocks and analysis of the cost and benefits, and analysis of the policy frameworks to support the implementation of these different actions. But really you should also try to think about it yourself.

You should try to come up with alternatives to what we developed and who knows, maybe you would come up with even better solutions.

The Key Technological Challenges of Deep Decarbonization I

The Need for Accelerated Development of Low-Carbon Technologies / Key technologies For RDD&D

Today we’re going to discuss in detail some of the key technological challenges that must be met to achieve the deep decarbonization of our energy systems. This is a very important theme of this course. And in fact, also a very important era for action at the international level because we’ve stressed many times now the importance of developing these new low carbon technologies in addition to the ones that are already available today and already deployed to realize the deep transformation of our energy system that is required.

As I hope you remember, at the end of Lecture that (see The Deep Decarbonization of Energy Systems IV )I presented you the results of a global mitigation scenario that achieves a level of CO2 emission reductions consistent with the objective of limiting the temperature increase below 2-degree Celsius. And we saw that achieving deep decarbonization was certainly challenging, but also very feasible and required in particular the almost complete Decarbonization of electricity supply, the largest source of CO2 energy emissions today. But also the very significant, although less radical emission reductions in the end use energy sectors such as transport, building or industry.

611But if you remember correctly, I also emphasized that the implementation of the scenario depended on the deployment and the development at scale of technologies that are either not yet completely technologically mature, or whose costs are still very high. And today in this lecture, starting with this first chapter I want us to identify which of these technologies in particular are key to the process of deep decarbonization. But I also want us to go through each of these technologies one by one and review which are the main technological challenges that must be overcome if these technologies are to be eventually deployed at scale.

Make no mistake here, many of the technologies that are required to reduce the emissions from our energy systems are already available and many of them in fact are already deployed, at least at a pretty significant scale in the global economy. And this is true by the way for each of the three pillars we said were the overarching framework of deep decarbonization. So remember, improving energy efficiency, decarbonizing electricity generation and switching to low carbon fuels. In each of these three pillars we can pick many examples to make this point.

For example there are many existing technological options to improve the energy efficiency of our homes and our industries. Many options for energy efficient heating and cooling. The use of thermostat in particular can save you a lot of energy simply by turning down the temperature when there is nobody at home, or at night. Replacing the incandescent lights by light bulbs also saves a lot of energy. And there are also many options to improve the insulation of the building envelope, for example, by using double or even triple glaze windows. Appliances and electronics are also much more energy efficient than they used to be in the past.612

And what I’m sure you’ve noticed, the Energy Star label can help purchasing the most energy efficient equipment. So that was for just a few by the way of a very wide range of existing energy efficiency technology.

Let’s turn to the second pillar, the low carbon electricity. Here too there are already many existing options to produce electricity in a low carbon way with either low carbon sources of energy or even completely zero sources of electricity production. Example, hydropower has been used for a very long time now and is by the way one of the cheapest way to generate electricity. Many other renewable energies are also being used, although they’re being used at different scales. Onshore or offshore wind. Solar photovoltaic or concentrated solar power. Some of them have even reached what we call the grid parity.

What is it, the grid parity? Complex term for a very simple concept. It is the cost at which the low carbon technologies are, become competitive with the other alternative forms of energy. And some of the renewable energy, certainly not all of them, and certainly not everywhere, have reached the grid parity with some of their high carbon alternatives. Nuclear power is also used by several countries, in fact close to 40 countries to generate electricity. If we go to the transport sector to discuss some of the existing low carbon technologies, there are already a wide-range of fuel efficient hybrid, sometimes even completely battery electric, light duty vehicles. So for passenger transportation there are also vehicles using ethanol produced from biomass derived sugars and starch. Lots of them for example in Brazil. And also some natural gas or electric hybrid powered buses in many of the cities around the world and by the way, not only in the developed countries but also in, in large parts of the developing world already.613

So to summarize, there are already lots of energy efficient and low carbon technologies that are available today and deployed at some scale. It’s true that they might, they might not yet be deployed at a sufficient scale to reach the challenge, to meet the challenge of the deep decarbonization of our energy system, but it’s also true that they’re poised somehow to achieve much higher penetration rates in the future if we are to implement the right policies to incentivize their further deployment and in particular, the pricing of carbon that will increase the price of their high carbon alternatives.

And you can think of many, many different ways that we will discuss in the next lectures of pricing carbon, either directly through a carbon tax or through an emission trading system or even the implicit pricing of carbon through different types of regulations. But the point I want to make here is that the technologies that are commercially available today, alone, will not be sufficient, at least in many national contexts to achieve deep decarbonization, or at least they are not sufficient at reasonable costs.

The existing technologies might be able to do the job, but they will do so at a very high cost. So the development of the new technologies, some of them we’re going to be talking about in the next chapter, really offers the opportunity of lowering the overall costs, the overall investment costs of climate change mitigation.

But it will require important levels of research, development, and demonstration before we go to the deployment phase eventually. And in the next chapters, we will discuss some, not all of them unfortunately because we don’t have the time, but we will discuss some of the most promising technologies of the future. All of these technologies are known to some degree.

It’s not science fiction, not at all. But most of them are still under development of some form. Some of them have been demonstrated in pilot projects or in small commercial niches and not at very large scale. Some others are technically viable but at a way-too-high cost for their mass adoption.614

Some others yet the complimentary infrastructure that is needed for their deployment and yet some others face barriers for public concerns, so lack the necessary public support for their adoption due to concerns about safety, reliability or other types of environmental impacts, because it’s very important of course to take a sustainable development perspective at these technologies and not to look only at their potential to reduce greenhouse gases emissions.

Some of these technologies might have other important environmental risks that we need to identify and hopefully be able to mitigate. So in the next chapters, let’s see how we can confront these important technological challenges.