The Energy Transitions Commission (ETC) has launched a new report entitled Better Energy, Greater Prosperity which provides an overview of the ongoing global energy transition.
The ETC a diverse group of leaders and organisations from across the energy and climate communities, including investors, energy companies, industry disruptors, equipment suppliers, non-profits and research organisations, from developed and developing countries. It aims to provide a shared vision between companies and organisations with different perspectives on and interests in the energy system with a view to sending a strong message to policy makers all over the world.
The report highlights four strategies offering economic and business growth opportunities while providing energy access for all and meeting the Paris Agreement objectives of limiting global warming to well below 2⁰C. These strategies discuss the opportunities for decarbonisation of power generation and extended electrification, decarbonisation of power and beyond power, energy productivity and the optimisation of fossil fuels. It offers realistic pathways to halve carbon emissions by 2040 while urging decision-makers to act immediately.
“The transition to low-carbon energy systems would deliver important social benefits – with, for instance, dramatically improved air quality leading to longer and healthier lives” the report argues, “…and economic opportunities related to the development of technologies and innovative business models. Cutting carbon emissions from 36 Gt today to 20 Gt per annum by 2040 is technically and economically feasible, but we must achieve faster progress.”
The report draws a number of major conclusions, including the observation that falling costs of renewables and battery systems makes the growth of cost-effective clean electricity unstoppable. There is still untapped potential to improve energy productivity but rapid progress is needed on a number of key technologies. In order to achieve this, investment must be ramped up and countries must put in place coherent and predictable national policies to drive the required energy transitions forward. It also suggests that it is possible for the US in particular to build on the transition to low-carbon energy systems to drive competitiveness and economic growth. This is especially important given that coal plants are likely to become uneconomic and ‘clean coal’ plants even more so.