scenarios for a future energy supply
Moving from principles to action on energy supply and climate change mitigation 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. Any analysis that seeks to tackle energy and environmental issues therefore needs to look ahead at least half a century.
Scenarios are important in describing possible development paths, to give decision-makers an overview of future perspectives and to indicate how far they can shape the future energy system. Two different kinds of scenario are used here to characterise the wide range of possible pathways for a future energy supply system: a Reference Scenario, reflecting a continuation of current trends and policies, and the Energy [R]evolution Scenarios, which are designed to achieve a set of dedicated environmental policy targets.
The Reference Scenario is based on the 1st National Basic Energy Plan (2008-2030) (see chapter 2)In 2008, in order to provide a backbone support for its “Low-carbon Green-growth” initiative in the energy sector, Korean government announced the nation’s first 20-year long-term energy plan which is a guideline for other energy-related government plans such as the Basic Plan for Longterm electricity supply and demand. According to the plan, the energy intensity will be decreased from 0.341 to 0.185 by 2030, and the NRE (New & Renewable Energy) will be expanded from 2.4% to 11% of total energy supply by 2030, while reducing the fossil energy ratio (based on the primary energy level), including oil, to 61% by 2030 from 83% at present. At the same time Korean government will invest a lot in the expansion of nuclear power energy indicating that nuclear power has far contributed significantly to the stable supply of cheaper electricity, alleviating the national economy’s oil dependence and energy import burden, considering that for the past 25 years, the electricity fare stood at a 11.4% increase although consume prices rose as much as 186%, so to respond to high oil prices and greenhouse gas reduction, the reinforced role of nuclear energy is an avoidable choice. The government plans to increase the nuclear power ratio among total generation facilities up to 41% and 59% of total power generation by 2030. This provides a baseline for comparison with the Energy [R]evolution scenario.
The Energy [R]evolution Scenario has a key target to reduce worldwide carbon dioxide emissions down to a level of around 10 Gigatonnes per year by 2050 in order to keep the increase in global temperature under +2°C. A second objective is the global phasing out of nuclear energy. To achieve its targets, the scenario is characterised by 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 bio fuels. The general framework parameters for population and GDP growth remain unchanged from the Reference Scenario.
The Advanced Energy [R]evolution Scenario is aimed at an even stronger decrease in CO2 emissions, especially given the uncertainty that even 10 Gigatonnes might be too much to keep global temperature rises at bay. All general framework parameters such as population and economic growth remain unchanged. The efficiency pathway for industry and “other sectors” is also the same as in the basic Energy [R]evolution scenario. What is different is that the Advanced scenario incorporates a stronger effort to develop better technologies to achieve CO2 reduction. So the transport sector factors in lower demand (compared to the basic scenario), resulting from a change in driving patterns and a faster uptake of efficient combustion vehicles and – after 2025 – a larger share of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
Given the enormous and diverse potential for renewable power, the Advanced scenario also foresees a shift in the use of renewables from power to heat. Assumptions for the heating sector therefore include a faster expansion of the use of district heat and hydrogen and more electricity for process heat in the industry sector. More geothermal heat pumps are also used, which leads – combined with a larger share of electric drives in the transport sector – to a higher overall electricity demand. In addition a faster expansion of solar and geothermal heating systems is assumed.
In all sectors, the latest global market development projections of the renewables industry33 have been taken into account (see table 5.11 Assumed global average annual growth rates for renewable technologies). In developing countries in particular, a shorter operational lifetime for coal power plants, of 20 instead of 40 years, has been assumed in order to allow a faster uptake of renewables. The speedier introduction of electric vehicles, combined with the implementation of smart grids and faster expansion of super grids (about ten years ahead of the basic Energy [R]evolution scenario) - allows a higher share of fluctuating renewable power generation (photovoltaic and wind) to be employed. The 30% mark for the proportion of renewables in the global energy supply is therefore passed just before 2030 (also ten years ahead).
The global quantities of biomass and large hydro power remain the same in both Energy [R]evolution scenarios, for reasons of sustainability.
National and regional Energy [R]evolution scenarios take the global framework as a basis and adjust them to locally available technology and infrastructure as well as regional (renewable) energy resources and change them according to national socioeconomic circumstances.
These scenarios by no means claim to predict the future; they simply describe three potential development pathways out of the broad range of possible ‘futures’. The Energy [R]evolution Scenarios are designed to indicate the efforts and actions required to achieve their ambitious objectives and to illustrate the options we have at hand to change our energy supply system into one that is sustainable.