According to DNV GL, the energy transition requires more than 10 times more solar and five times more wind power, in combination with other technology, to limit global warming and meet the targets of the Paris Agreement. The report, Energy Transition Outlook: Power Supply and Use, finds that the energy transition is gathering pace more quickly than previously thought but the rate is still too slow to meet the Paris goals.
At the projected pace, DNV GL’s forecast indicates a world that is most likely to be 2.4°C warmer at the end of this century than in the immediate pre-industrial period. The technology already exists to curb emissions enough to hit the climate target. What is needed to ensure this happens are far-reaching policy decisions.
DNV GL recommends that the following technology measures be put in place to help close the emissions gap and limit global warming to below 2°C.
Grow solar power by more than 10 times to 5TW and wind by five times to 3TW by 2030, which would meet 50 percent of the global electricity use per year.
Increase production of batteries for the 50 million electric vehicles needed per year by 2030, alongside investments in new technology to store excess electric energy and solutions that allow our electricity grids to cope with the growing influx of solar and wind power.
Create new infrastructure for charging electric vehicles on a large scale.
Invest over $1.5trn annually in the expansion and reinforcement of power grids by 2030, including ultra-high-voltage transmission networks and extensive demand-response solutions to balance variable wind and solar power.
Increase global energy efficiency improvements by 3.5 percent per year within the next decade.
Use green hydrogen to heat buildings and industry, fuel transport and make use of excess renewable energy in the power grid.
For the heavy industry sector: increase electrification of manufacturing processes, including electrical heating. Onsite renewable sources combined with storage solutions
Utilize heat-pump technologies and improved insulation.
Expand rail both for city commuting and long-distance passenger and cargo transport.
Rapid and wide deployment of carbon capture, utilization and storage installations.
DNV GL’s report forecasts that by 2050 power generation from solar photovoltaic and wind energy will be 36,000 terawatt hours per year, more than 20 times today’s output. Greater China and India will have the largest share of solar energy by mid-century, with a 40 percent share of global installed PV capacity in China, followed by the Indian Subcontinent at 17 percent.
Globally, the report states renewable energy will provide almost 80 percent of the world’s electricity by 2050. The electrification will see increasing use of heat pumps, electric arc furnaces and an electric vehicle revolution, with 50 percent of all new cars sold in 2032 being electric vehicles.
Despite this rapid pace, the energy transition is not fast enough. DNV GL’s forecast indicates that, alarmingly, for a 1.5°C warming limit, the remaining carbon budget will be exhausted as early as 2028, with an overshoot of 770 Gt CO2 in 2050.
The report demonstrates that the energy transition is affordable, claiming the world will spend an ever-smaller share of GDP on energy. Global expenditure on energy is currently 3.6 percent of GDP but that is predicted to fall to 1.9 percent by 2050. This is due to the plunging costs of renewables and other efficiencies, allowing for greater investment to accelerate the transition.