Tuesday, October 18, 2016

What is Needed to Limit Global Climate Warming to 1.5C Using a Scenario Approach?

A Better Life with a Healthy Planet - Pathways to Net-Zero Emissions, A New Lens Scenarios Supplement (96 page pdf, Shell, May 2016)

Today we review a supplement to the Shell scenarios published in 2013 that examined steps toward a net zero energy future. The Shell scenario team became famous for their contributions to determining post-apartheid options for South Africa after 1990. It is a scoping document, starting with an estimate of the energy needs of the world in 2100 “for a better life”, based on a 50% population increase and a lowering of energy demand per person from as much as 300 gigajoules in USA/Canada to 100 GJ per person, as a world average – which amounts to a doubling of the global energy needs.

To accomplish this by 2050 and meet the Paris goal of limiting warming to 1.5 C, would require net zero emissions by that year and that, in turn, would require some form of negative carbon reduction, using technologies such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) which would mean lowering its current high cost to around $30 per tonne by 2030- equivalent to wind power costs. Carbon pricing is seen as an absolute necessity to bring solar energy up to 40% of energy needs by 2060. It also requires 80% of passenger cars converted to electricity by 2030 and, in terms of land use, reducing drastically the amount of agricultural land used for feeding animals from the current 80%. For developing countries, investment in infrastructure and adapting to a solar society would allow them to leap-frog to net zero emissions as well.


Key Quotes:

 “While we seek to enhance our operations’ average energy intensity through both the development of new projects and divestments, we have no immediate plans to move to a net-zero emissions portfolio over our investment horizon of 10–20 years

“We begin with “where we are now”, ..We then summarise what we mean by “a better life with a healthy planet” and how the energy system may evolve in future to deliver those objectives: the necessary transformations in both the consumption and production side of the energy system; economic growth pathways in developing countries; and the policies needed to support those transformations.”

 “Energy: enabling the material basis for “a better life”… how much energy is needed for a better life?..if we assume a future population of around 10 billion people by the end of the century, and multiply it by a hundred gigajoules per capita, we see that the global energy need would be about 1,000 exajoules (one exajoule is equal to one billion gigajoules) a year – which is roughly twice the size of the current energy system”

“Four essential policy levers..:
  • Long-term policy frameworks that support and incentivise the building of necessary infrastructure to enable the take-up of new low-carbon materials and technologies…
  • Economy-wide carbon pricing – whether through carbon trading, carbon taxes or mandated carbon-emissions standards…
  • Policies that mitigate the negative effects of the transition on the most vulnerable sectors of the economy and segments of society…
  • Other financial support and incentives for low-carbon research and development, particularly for early-stage development and deployment of promising technologies across all key sectors. “
“Consumers will need to choose lighter cars with more efficient drives. They will need to employ heat pumps, LED lighting and other energy-efficient appliances as well as increase recycling…by choosing to live in compact cities, consumers lower demand for energy because they don’t need to travel as far.” “Many models could not limit likely warming to below 2°C if bioenergy, CCS and their combination (BECCS) are limited (high confidence).

 “to limit the temperature rise to 3°C would require achieving net-zero emissions during the first half of the next century; 2.5°C would require net-zero emissions by 2100; 2°C would require net-zero emissions by around 2070; and 1.5°C would require net-zero emissions around 2050, followed thereafter by net-negative emissions.”

“In developed economies, the emerging standard for new buildings is “all-electric”. The combination of heavy insulation, triple glazing, electric boilers, heat pumps (effectively air conditioners working in reverse to heat a space) and rooftop solar PV power means that house builders can already build commercially viable, low-rise “net-zero energy” homes “

“Passenger road transport will be the easiest to electrify, with battery and fuel cell electric vehicles potentially reaching 80% of the global passenger car fleet over coming decades. EVs are particularly suited for short- and medium-distance travel in urban environments and densely populated regions,”

“the highest priority is to stop and reverse conversion of natural forests, peat-lands and high-carbon grassland to agricultural use.. the world must reduce emissions from rearing animals. 80% of agricultural land is used as pasture to feed animals.”

“to become the largest single primary energy source in the energy system by 2060, accounting for 40% of total primary energy…would require higher fossil-energy prices relative to solar, significant innovation in technology.., worldwide markets of solar products that appeal to the rich as well as the poor, a high electrification of stationary energy uses and a commitment by many people worldwide to sustainable sources of energy.”

 “By adopting new technologies and production processes, shifting to new energy sources and investing in the necessary enabling infrastructure, lower income countries could “leapfrog” to a net-zero emissions economy.”

 “keeping to a 2°C pathway would cost global society approximately 140% more without CCS. CCS is a capital-intensive technology….Commercial viability for a CCS plant would currently require a mechanism (for example, a carbon price) to reward capture and storage of CO2 at over $100 per tonne, but this cost could decline to around $70 per tonne in the early 2030s as more CCS plants are built and the supply chains they rely upon mature. This would put the price of CCS-based power generation from natural gas on a par with offshore wind.”

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