the energy [r]evolution concept
The expert consensus is that a fundamental shift in the way we consume and generate energy must begin immediately and be well underway within the next ten years in order to avert the worst impacts of climate change.3 The scale of the challenge requires a complete transformation of the way we produce, consume and distribute energy, while maintaining economic growth. Nothing short of such a revolution will enable us to limit global warming to a rise in temperature of lower than 2°C, above which the impacts become devastating. This chapter explains the basic principles and strategic approach of the Energy [R]evolution concept, which have formed the basis for the scenario modelling since the very first Energy [R]evolution scenario published in 2005. However, this concept has been constantly improved as technologies develop and new technical and economical possibilities emerge.
Current electricity generation relies mainly on burning fossil fuels in very large power stations which generate carbon dioxide and also waste much of their primary input energy. More energy is lost as the power is moved around the electricity network and is converted from high transmission voltage down to a supply suitable for domestic or commercial consumers. The system is vulnerable to disruption: localised technical, weather-related or even deliberately caused faults can quickly cascade, resulting in widespread blackouts. Whichever technology generates the electricity within this old fashioned configuration, it will inevitably be subject to some, or all, of these problems. At the core of the Energy [R]evolution therefore there are changes both to the way that energy is produced and distributed.