IEA: concrete action must meet low-carbon ambition

IEA: concrete action must meet low-carbon ambition

The International Energy Agency has declared concrete action is needed to meet decarbonization ambitions, and that cities are at the heart of such efforts.

EIA-10According to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) annual report, Energy Technology Perspective 2016, clean energy technologies continued their advancement as mainstream energy solutions in 2015. However, policy makers need to remain committed, to avoid a lowering of priorities due to low oil and coal prices at this critical time, to the transition to a decarbonised energy system.

The threshold of one million electric cars was crossed in 2015, with an overall annual sales growth rate of 70%. While still small in absolute terms relative to the entire vehicle stock, this growth provides con dence in a viable alternative technology.

Renewable power generation grew by an estimated 5% in 2015 and now accounts for around 23% of total electricity generation globally. New renewable electricity capacity grew at its fastest pace in 2015, supported by policies driven by energy security, local pollution concerns and climate benefits. With the momentum of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) and recent policy changes, the outlook for renewable power is more optimistic. However, policy uncertainties, non-economic barriers and grid integration challenges persist, preventing renewables from being fully on track with the 2025 2DS target.

– Nuclear power plant grid connections doubled in 2015. Furthermore, progress and construction times in 2015 show the long-term 2DS targets to be more achievable than previously thought.

– Further proof of the technical viability of carbon capture and storage (CCS) was demonstrated in 2015. The current wave of CCS projects continued to move forward, with two new projects beginning operation in 2015.

– Energy effciency improvements continued at a steady pace, with buildings and appliances improving at a faster rate than other end uses. However, more aggressive measures are vital in the short term to stay on the least-cost pathway to meet 2DS targets and full the role of energy e ciency as the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions reductions under International Energy Agency (IEA) scenarios, and contribute to achieving energy-related emissions peaking in the short term.

– The recent successes in energy storage solutions are a result of long-term technicalinnovation. To have continued advances in maturity and scale, sustained support is required. Incentives are needed that increase the uptake of system integration technologies, which closely match supply with demand and improve overall system performance, especially in countries and regions where the electricity grid is expanding.

 

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The focal point of the new report, however, is the role that cities not only took in the lead-up to COP21 but in the role cities must take in the decarbonization effort moving forward.

“Cities today are home to about half the global population but represent almost two-thirds of global energy demand and 70% of carbon emissions from the energy sector, so they must play a leading role if COP21 commitments are to be achieved,” said Fatih Birol the Executive Director of the IEA. “Because cities are centers of economic growth and innovation, they are ideal test-beds for new technologies – from more sustainable transport systems to smart grids – that will help lead the transition to a low-carbon energy sector.”

The energy and carbon footprint of urban areas is expected to continue to increase over the next three decades under increased urbanization and growing economic activity by urban citizens. By 2050, the IEA expects the urban population to grow to two-thirds of the global population, with the urban share of global GDP increasing to 85%.

Given these figures, it is unsurprising that the IEA is targeting cities as being the heart of the sustainable energy transition.

The report provides a possible solution through its 2 Degree Scenario (2DS), which with the right support for low-carbon technologies, will see primary energy demand decrease by 30% and carbon emissions in the energy system fall by 70% by 2050. According to the IEA, its 2DS scenario “provides a vision for meeting demand for end-use energy services in cities while at the same time significantly reducing primary energy use and its environmental impacts.”

The 2DS scenario has urban primary energy demand globally limited to 430 EJ by 2050, or 65% of total primary energy demand, representing less than a 20% increase from 2013 — despite urban populations expected to increase by 67% and GDP by 230% over the same period.

 

Date: June 2016

Source: Clean Technica

Read the report


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