scenario for a future energy supply
Moving from principles to action for energy supply that mitigates against climate change requires a long-term perspective. Energy infrastructure takes time to build up; new energy technologies take time to develop. Policy shifts often also need many years to take effect. In most world regions the transformation from fossil to renewable energies will require additional investment and higher supply costs over about twenty years. However, there will be tremendous economic benefits in the long term, due to much lower consumption of increasingly expensive, rare or imported fuels. Any analysis that seeks to tackle energy and environmental issues therefore needs to look ahead at least half a century.
Scenarios are necessary to describe possible development paths, to give decision-makers a broad overview and indicate how far they can shape the future energy system. Two scenarios are used here to show the wide range of possible pathways in each world region for a future energy supply system:
- Reference scenario, reflecting a continuation of current trends and policies.
- The Energy [R]evolution scenario, designed to achieve a set of environmental policy targets.
The Reference scenario is based on the Current Policies scenarios published by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in World Energy Outlook 2011 (WEO 2011).25 It only takes existing international energy and environmental policies into account. Its assumptions include, for example, continuing progress in electricity and gas market reforms, the liberalisation of crossborder energy trade and recent policies designed to combat environmental pollution. The Reference scenario does not include additional policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As the IEA’s projections only extend to 2035, they have been extended by extrapolating their key macroeconomic and energy indicators forward to 2050. This provides a baseline for comparison with the Energy [R]evolution scenario.
The global Energy [R]evolution scenario has a key target to reduce worldwide carbon dioxide emissions from energy use down to a level of below 4 Gigatonnes per year by 2050 in order to hold the increase in average global temperature under +2°C. A second objective is the global phasing out of nuclear energy. The Energy [R]evolution scenarios published by Greenpeace in 2007, 2008 and 2010 included ‘basic’ and ‘advanced’ scenarios, the less ambitious target was for 10 Gigatonnes CO2 emissions per year by 2050. However, this 2012 revision only focuses on the more ambitious “advanced” Energy [R]evolution scenario first published in 2010.
This global carbon dioxide emission reduction target translates into a carbon budget for Europe (EU 27): the basis of this Energy [R]evolution for Europe (EU 27). To achieve the target, the scenario includes significant efforts to fully exploit the large potential for energy efficiency, using currently available best practice technology. At the same time, all cost-effective renewable energy sources are used for heat and electricity generation as well as the production of biofuels. The general framework parameters for population and GDP growth remain unchanged from the Reference scenario.