'Green energy transition not fast enough'

14 September 2021

More focus on energy efficiency and renewables is needed to hit net zero targets, according to research.

Even if all electricity was "green" from today, the world would still fall a long way short of achieving the 2050 net zero emissions ambitions of the COP21 Paris Agreement, warned DNV’s Energy Transition Outlook 2021.

Electrification is on course to double in size within a generation and renewables are already the most competitive source of new power, DNV said. However, the consultancy forecast global emissions will only see a 9% drop by 2030.

The COP21 Paris Agreement is striving to limit global warming’s increase to 1.5C by 2050. But the transition to greener energy is not happening fast enough for the world to achieve this target, DNV warned, and global warming is likely to reach 2.3C by end of the century.

The report, which provides a forecast of developments in the global energy system to 2050, said that oil demand looks set to halve, with coal use reduced to a third in that period. However, although the use of fossil fuels has been reduced remarkably quick, at least in some regions, these sources, especially gas, will still account for 50% of the global energy mix by 2050, DNV predicted.

Improving energy efficiency offers the biggest opportunity to tackle climate change, causing global energy demand to start to leveling off from the 2030s even as the global population and economy grow, DNV stated. New technologies and improvements in this area, often tied to electrification, have much to contribute to fighting climate change and should be given a higher priority by governments and industry, it added.

Hydrogen is the energy carrier with the biggest potential to tackle emissions, it said, but its use will only star to really scale up from the mid-2030s, and will only amount to 5% of the energy mix by 2050. 

Wind and solar power will generate 69% of grid-connected power in 2050, it found. However none of these sources are scaling rapidly enough, DNV concluded.

The report said that the global pandemic was a “lost opportunity” for speeding up the energy transition, with economic recovery packages mainly focusing on protecting rather than transforming existing industries.

Remi Eriksen, group president and CEO of DNV, called on governments to tackle climate change with the same urgency that they responded to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Many of the pandemic recovery packages have largely focused on protecting, rather than transforming, existing industries,” he said. “There’s been a lot of ‘building back’ as opposed to ‘building better, and although this is a lost opportunity, it is not the last we have for transitioning faster to a deeply decarbonised energy system.”

“Extraordinary action will be needed to bring the hydrogen economy into full force earlier, but these are extraordinary times.  The window to avoid catastrophic climate change is closing soon, and the costs of not doing so unimaginable.”

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