Pace of Renewables Deployment Must Grow by 5-7 Times by 2030: ETC

The Energy Transitions Commission (ETC) has released a new report analysing the feasibility of achieving a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) economy by 2050 and the actions required in the next decade to put this target within reach. The report Making Clean Electrification Possible: 30 years to electrify the global economy sets out why it is essential but also feasible and affordable to multiply the size of the global power system by 5 while shifting to renewable-based electricity provision.

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The Paris climate accord committed the world to limiting global warming to less than a 2°C increase from pre-industrial levels — and striving for no more than a 1.5°C rise in the planet’s average temperature. For this objective to be reached, the report states that the world needs to achieve net-zero GHG emissions by around mid-century. The ETC states that achieving a net-zero GHG emissions economy within the next 30 years is technically and economically feasible. 

“A profound transformation of the global energy system is ahead – a net-zero GHG economy will be built on abundant, affordable zero-carbon electricity,” it started.

The authors believe that electricity could represent up to 70 percent of final energy demand by 2050, versus 20 percent today, with total electricity use expected to grow as much as 5 times in the coming decades. Transitioning to clean electricity as the main source of final energy represents the cheapest and most efficient way to decarbonise the economy.

Further, the rapidly falling costs of renewables and storage solutions make it possible to achieve the required massive expansion of clean power systems at low cost, according to the report. However, wind and solar must increase from today’s 10 percent of total electricity generation to about 40 percent by 2030, and over 75 percent by 2050. Annual wind and solar installations must therefore grow by 5-7 times by 2030, and more than 10 times by 2050. They must also be accompanied by the parallel deployment of other zero-carbon generation technologies (like hydro and nuclear), flexibility solutions, storage and power networks to deliver zero-carbon power systems at scale.

The report states that this is undoubtedly within reach if clear national strategies for decarbonisation are put in place and appropriate power market design unlocks private financial flows. Investments in renewable power, primarily wind and solar, will represent the vast majority (around 80 percent) of total investments required to achieve a net zero economy. Over USD 80 trillion of investment will be required globally over the next 30 years (ca. USD 2.5 trillion per annum on average). This includes investment in renewable generation to support both direct and indirect electrification, in addition to investment in electricity grid infrastructure. Whilst large, this represents less than 1.5 percent of global GDP and is manageable in the current macroeconomic environment.

With regards to power, the ETC recommends that developed countries should achieve grid emissions intensity below 30gCO2/kWh by the mid-2030s and developing countries by the mid-2040s.

A few key members of the ETC include ArcelorMittal, Bank of America, BP, Development Research Center of the State Council of China, EBRD, HSBC, Iberdrola, Ørsted, Shell, Longi Solar, Tata Group, Volvo Group and the World Resources Institute among others.

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Ayush Verma

Ayush is a staff writer at saurenergy.com and writes on renewable energy with a special focus on solar and wind. Prior to this, as an engineering graduate trying to find his niche in the energy journalism segment, he worked as a correspondent for iamrenew.com.

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