Discussion Paper

Existing approaches to achieving energy transition targets

Chapter 2.2

Most GHG emissions are based on use of fossil resources, mainly in energetic consumption. Due to strong growth in developing countries, global energy demand will rise by a third by 2040 (BP energy economics, 2018).

The main challenge is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the energy system while maintaining and increasing security of supply and the availability and affordability of energy.

Rising energy consumption must be decoupled from greenhouse gas emissions. This will only work if energy system transformation is consistently driven forward on the basis of two well-known principles:

  • responsible, economical use of valuable resources (efficiency),
  • susstainable, climate-friendly energy sources (renewable energies)
Global greenhouse gas emissions by sector for year 2010 Picture: based on IPCC Technical Summary (Edenhofer et al., 2014, p. 44)

More than 40 percent of the total growth in energy demand will be met by alternative (renewable) energies. China will be the biggest driver, ahead of India, and will record more growth in alternative energies than all OECD countries combined. By 2040, the share of eco-energy in the total global energy supply will have quintupled to around 14 percent - driven in particular by wind and solar energy (BP energy economics, 2018).  . Electrification plays an important role in implementing the energy transition – first, because many applications with direct use of electricity have high efficiency (e.g. efficiency factor of electric engine up to 95% compared to up to 40% for combustion engines, depending on conditions); second, because electricity-based applications are emission-free at place of use and electricity generation can be based on emission-free renewable sources like sun and wind (generated both central or decentral). Electric drives and applications are on the advance, from electric cars to heat pump heating. In the USA, electricity has grown from 3% of final energy in 1950 to approximately 21% today. Electricity’s role continues to grow, ranging from 32% to 47% of final energy across different scenarios in 2050 (Electric Power Research Institute, 2018; Global Future Council on Energy, 2018).

But, the direct use of electricity from renewable sources will not be able to cover energy requirements, so - the vision of “All Electric World” seems unlikely from today’s technological perspective. Even if share of electricity in end energy demand would come completely from renewable sources, there will still be at least 53 to 68 percent, for which other renewable solutions have to be found!

Game Changers can be gaseous and liquid energy sources, which are produced climate neutrally with renewable energies. They make renewable energy storable and transportable over long distances. This makes powerfuels a missing link between energy efficiency, renewable energies and electrification.

Read more