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Try to guess: how far would we progress toward net zero if we decarbonised the entire power sector by 2050?

Last week, the International Energy Agency released its first Energy Technology Perspectives report in three years. According to the report, “global carbon emissions [are] at unacceptably high levels, structural changes to the energy system are required to achieve the rapid and lasting decline in emissions called for by the world’s shared climate targets.”

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The new Energy Technology Perspectives 2020 analyses more than 800 different technology options to assess what would need to happen to reach net-zero emissions by 2070 while ensuring a resilient and secure energy system.

What struck me about the report was the scale of the challenge. Apparently moving the entire power sector to clean energy will only address 33.33% of the journey to net-zero. The remaining portion will – literally – be made up by transport, along with the industrial and buildings sectors.

The ultimate solution is to electrify as much of our transport, industrial and building sector as we can. The IEA report provides some perspective on the 800 technologies available to achieve that aim.

The report, which starts with the current state of play, explores technology across power generation, heavy industry such as steel and chemical production, along with transport, heating and industrial applications. It also features a particularly interesting chapter on innovation in the industry.

Apparently moving the entire power sector to clean energy will only address 33.33% of the journey to net zero.

The current projections are based on net zero by 2070 – but what would it take to achieve that goal globally by 2050?

Investment – and a concerted effort from governments around the world. Support for innovation is not purely financial – although, it does help! What is important is sustained effort, socio-political support, and resource support in the form of a skilled workforce and research infrastructure.

Interestingly enough, it would also require that the power sector decarbonises sooner while generating additional electricity of nearly 20,000 TWh in 2050 compared to other scenarios considered.

The remainder of 2020 presents a unique opportunity for innovation in the clean energy space, particularly as stimulus funding is being allocated – offering a ‘once-in-a-generation’ opportunity to fast forward the clean energy transition.

What would you do to speed up the innovation and development of new clean energy technology? How can we encourage governments to shift spending away from carbon-intensive generation sources? Do you believe there are areas in which quicker progress can be made? Or, do you believe that the pressure to decarbonise is nothing but negative naysaying fostered by doomsdayers?

Whatever your perspective, we’d love to hear from you. You can either email us at editorial@smart-energy.com or comment on our LinkedIn post.

Wishing you an innovative week!

Until next time
Claire

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