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A Global Vision for 2050
full-sized copy of this poster can be downloaded here:
prepared the following article for presentation at the World
Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), Rio+10 in Johannesburg
in 2002. Download
as pdf (230 kB).
Gunnar Boye Olesen, Michael Kvetny, and Emilio Lebre la Rovere,
From independent researchers some proposals exist with fast CO2 reductions,
fulfilling above imperatives. Based on these studies and proposals from
our network, is proposed a path to supply the world with 100% renewable
energy by 2050, and accordingly a 100% reduction of energy-related CO2
emissions. This will be in line with the limitation of global CO2 emissions
to 225 Gton of Carbon in the 21st century.
2. ENERGY CONSUMPTION
The GRES scenario is assuming a high efficiency compared with assumptions
of the "business as usual" development of e.g. IPCC (IPCC,
2001) , being demanding on energy efficiency developments, and less demanding
on energy supply. A number of regional analyses give consumption in 2050
comparable to GRES, as shown in Fig.1. In addition to GRES, the comparison
The chart in fig. 1 is made with conversion of data by author. The very low estimate for medium and high temperature heat for GRES compared with other scenarios is partly caused by differences in division of heat categories.
2.1 The Path to an Energy Efficient Economy in 2050
Within the time-span of 50 years, most energy consuming equipment will be replaced twice or more times, giving sufficient time to introduce new generations of highly efficient technology without extra costs of early retirements of equipment.
2.2 Proven Energy Efficiency Successes
In the future can be expected breakthrough of a number of new, efficient technologies, such as energy efficient stand-by functions, using 1/10 - 1/100 of the energy consumption of today's market average.
Common for these energy efficient technologies are that they are introduced with the natural replacement of equipment, and that they are cost-effective for the users.
2.3 The Challenge of Improving Buildings
The average standard of 20 kWh/m2could be achieved as a combination
of 1/4 of the buildings with consumption of 40 kWh/m2 (Northern Europe),
1/4 of the buildings with 30 kWh/m2 (middle EU: Austria, Belgium, Germany,
France), 1/4 of the buildings with 10 kWh/m2 (Southern Europe), and 1/4
of the buildings built as passive houses with no need for external heating
or cooling. This could be realised by raising building-codes to current
low-energy housing levels by 2010 (with a first step in 2005), requiring
that all major renovations include a major energy-renovation, and embark
on a major program for passive-houses to achieve that 50% or more of
all new buildings are made as passive houses, where internal energy sources
and passive solar energy supply close to 100% of the demand for space
For the developing countries, the situation is different in several ways. Most of the houses in use in 2050 are not built today, making it easier in principle to use high-efficient technologies. On the other hand, many houses are constructed today without heating or cooling equipment and low standards of thermal insulation. A large part of these houses will be equipped with heating or cooling installations within the next 50 years, if the GDP grows as expected in the GRES . This will raise the inefficient energy use. To avoid problems like this it is important that housing designs are fit to the climate and to the possible installation of heating/cooling systems. If heating or cooling is installed, they should be accompanied by cost-effective energy efficiency measures, to reduce costs as well as energy consumption. With increasing energy prices and large-scale use of efficient energy technologies in industrialised countries, as proposed above, an increasing number of energy efficiency measures will be cost-effective when heating/cooling is installed.
2.4 Efficient Transport
2.5 How to Implement Energy Efficiency Measures
A main new element of the supply system is the electricity storages that are needed because of the large supply from intermittent resources: solar and wind. While it can be assumed that 20% intermittent sources can be introduced in current electricity supply without large investments in electricity storages, storages will have to be introduced on a large scale to reach substantially higher coverage from intermittent supply, such as 84% of electricity supply in the centralised GRES scenario. With the assumption of a gradual change, the need for large storages will start in industrialised countries after 2015 and in developing countries after 2025. These new storages are in addition to existing hydro storage capacity. It is assumed that they are made with reversible fuel cells that have a cycle efficiency of 60%. Because 40% of the electricity has to be stored, this structure introduces a loss of 16% in the electricity supply. The electricity storage loss does not have to be completely wasted, it is likely that energy storage plants can replace current cogeneration plants for heat and electricity to some extent and the waste heat can be used to supply existing district heating networks.
The renewable energy sources included in the scenario are solar, wind,
hydro, and biomass. In GRES is estimated potentials for the renewable
energy sources, see fig.2. Data for fig.2 from GRES report table 8 and
Fig.74. Central solar potential is 52200 GW (exceeding scale in chart).
Biomass is expected to increase 33% , but with a massive change from heating purposes to transportation fuels (hydrogen for fuel cells), and with most increase taking place in industrialised countries. This is not a dramatic increase of biomass use, compared e.g. with EU's indicative targets for 2010 (EU Commission, 1997) , but of course it can be problematic to reach in some countries that already use their biomass resources beyond the limits of sustainable use, and interregional trade in biofuel is probably necessary.
Wind is expected to increase rapidly from today's level of 15,000 MW worldwide-installed capacity. If it follows the scenario in Windforce'10 (EWEA, FED, Green peace, 1999) , to reach 3,000,000 MW in 2040, it will have to decrease 20% afterwards to reach the level proposed in GRES for 2050. The centralised windpower in fig. 3 is windparks on marginal land and offshore.
Solar is expected to be a major source of electricity, providing almost 60% of the electricity supply in 2050. 60% of the solar electricity is expected to come from central solar electricity stations. Solar heating is not included specifically, but passive solar heating is a necessary element in achieving the low space-heating demand. Central solar is solar power plants such as PV-fields on marginal land. The potential for central solar is taken as coverage of 5% of the world's marginal land. This is the only source where the use in the GRES is order of magnitudes below the estimated potential (only 1.7% of the potential used in the scenario).
The main challenge in the supply system seems to be development of the solar electric supply, and the change of the biomass to supply hydrogen for transportation. The current solar electricity installation rate is 200 MWp in 1999 with a growth rate of 33% p.a. If this growth rate continues until 2003, where the world market will be large enough to have one PV manufacturing facility producing 500 MWp/year, it can lead to rapid decreases of prices as documented in the KPMG/Greenpace study on increased development of PV technology (KPMG & Maijburg, 1999) . If this is followed by an annual increase in installation of 25% p.a. from 2003 and the next 30 years, the solar capacity necessary for the scenario in 2050 will be available.
4.1 How to realise the Renewable Energy Supply?
Regarding the economy of changes to renewable-energy and energy-efficient energy use, a massive introduction of new technologies will lead to massive reductions of costs for the new technologies. For specific renewable-energy and energy-efficiency technologies it has been estimated that they would be able to compete with fossil fuels within 25 years under average conditions, if developed vigorously (e.g. large-scale windpower could be cost-effective within 10 years, photovoltaic in 15-25 years, biomass for cogeneration of heat and electricity in 10-20 years, all compared with fossil fuels without environmental costs, but with equal financing) (INFORSE-Europe, 2000) (IEA, 2000) . For certain applications, the technologies are already cost-effective today. The investments necessary for these developments will be paid back with the availability of cheaper renewable-energy supply and energy-efficiency technologies in the future. In general, they will be cost-effective for the society.
5.1 Windpower Example
5.2 Benefits for the World Economy
6. LIMITS TO GROWTH IN A SUSTAINABLE ENERGY SCENARIO
In GRES is assumed increased global equity regarding use of energy services,
with large growth in energy services in developing countries and small
growth in industrialised countries. The expected growth in energy services
in industrialised countries is smaller than the current trends for some
of the fastest growing, energy consuming sectors, such as transport.
Thus, to realize the scenario, it is necessary to reduce the expected
growth of e.g. transport, and use other means to cover future transport
needs, e.g. better logistics, spatial planning that requires less urban
transport, etc. It is, however, not necessary to reduce consumption.
7. ADRESSING THE POOR
While the development described in this paper will lead to a more equal division of energy services between industrialised and developing countries, there is a special need to address the poor that lack access to basic energy services today, about 2 billion people, or 1/3 of the world's population. To cover these basic needs is only required a tiny fraction of the world energy supply, and it is not a problem that need 50 years to solve. It has been proposed by Greenpeace and others to supply these basic needs with renewable energy within a period of just 12 years (Greenpeace & The Body Shop, 2001) . Such a development would be in line with the development proposed in this paper, and we support it. It will require special efforts, in addition to the technology and market measures proposed in this paper because many of those that lack basic energy needs are not well integrated in the market economy and could not pay for the solutions, even if they were beneficial for them and they were offered to them. There are no insurmountable technical, financial or institutional barriers to achieving the goal, but it will require commitment from the international community and radical changes in the way in which energy development is funded and subsidized.
8. AN OVERVIEW OF A POSSIBLE DEVELOPMENT
With the above assumptions, it is possible to give an overview of a possible development to reach the situation described in GRES in 2050.
Comparing today's situation with GRES, the increase in energy services would be an important achievement for developing countries. The difference between energy services in developing countries and industrialised countries is partly because of different climates, partly because an assumption of a remaining, smaller difference between the two parts of the world. See fig. 4, bars for 2000 are based on GRES table 2, "end-use energy" with division between industrialised and developing countries and extension from 1994 to 2000 made by authors.
Because of the high efficiency in the energy system and in the end-use of energy, the primary energy consumption is assumed to be lower in 2050 than today, in spite of the growth in energy service levels, see fig. 5.
A major result would be the decreasing energy-related CO2 emissions, exemplified in fig. 6. The slow increase in the first decade of the century includes emission-reduction in industrialised countries and growth in developing countries. The graph in fig.6 and the underlying figures after 2000 are by authors, figures before 2000 from IEA statistics.
The worldwide electricity consumption is expected to increase, see fig. 7. The overall increase is a combination of an increase in developing countries and a decrease in industrialised countries to about half of current level. Figures for 2050 are from GRES; figures 1990-1995 from IEA statistics and figures for the period in-between are from authors.
9. POLICIES TO MAKE THE CHANGES HAPPEN
When the development is technical possible, environmentally desirable and economical beneficial, the question that remains is how to make it political possible, how to make it happen?
To start the changes, there is a huge need to change energy investments for production of renewable-energy and energy-efficiency equipment in large scale, including local production of simple renewable energy equipment in developing countries. As part of this, energy research and development (R&D) should be focused on renewable energy and energy efficiency. The current energy R&D funding is primarily used for development of nuclear energy and fossil fuels, and this funding must be changed to finance entirely the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
To attract investments for production of the new technologies, there is a need of mass markets and of long-term markets. It is up to political decisions to create these markets. To create markets for renewable energy, targets and portfolios must be defined at local, national, regional, and global level. To create markets for energy efficiency, labelling, progressive energy efficiency standards and other measures should be introduced.
Currently some renewable-energy technologies have difficulties in competing with traditional energy sources, of which some are subsidised. To cope with this, environmental harmful subsidies must be phased out as soon as possible. In addition, the environmental benefits of renewable energy compared with fossil and nuclear energy must be reflected in the pricing.
The targets for renewable energy can be reached by different means. A successful way is fixed price arrangements for renewable-energy production with high enough prices to attract investments. Another way is via targets for individual consumers including companies. Then consumers can then decide to produce their own renewable energy, to purchase renewable energy, or to purchase renewable energy certificates that proofs the production of the requested amount of renewable energy.
The new technologies are by nature decentralised, and their introduction is dependant on local participation in decision-making regarding their installation and in their use. There is much more need for local involvement and local decision-making in the application of the new technologies than in the traditional, centralised energy systems.
9.1 Who Will Organise the Changes?
While the push for changes from the world climate negotiations are currently far too small for a fundamental shift of the world energy system, a dynamic development takes place in a number of countries, replacing fossil fuel with renewable energy in several sectors.
To achieve the necessary changes, the motivated nations, groups of nations, companies, towns, local groups, and individuals must act – not letting the resistance/reluctance of others hindering them of taking their own action. They should set their own targets for renewable-energy portfolios and for energy efficiency. Those doing it first will have the biggest benefits by being involved in the related technology development, and their industries will be in the front.
Also, on the international level, there is a need for organisations that will take the lead in the changes. The international organisations should be in charge of technical co-operation, co-ordination of policies, technology transfer and the programs to supply essential energy services for those lacking it today. Preferably, this should include one or more focussed organisations, such as the proposed "International Sustainable Energy Agency".
According to our findings, a total shift towards a sustainable energy
system is possible within a period of about 50 years, that the changes
will have a number of beneficial effects, that they will give a more
stable energy supply than the current, that they are compatible with
a sustainable development and with global equity, and that the additional
costs to the society will be small or even negative, if the changes are
well planned and phased in as part of the natural change of plants and
equipment. The changes will, however, require initial investments and
long-term strategies, nationally and internationally. It will also require
a major shift in the energy supply system and in energy consuming equipment