Wondering How? Efficiency and Renewables are the Winning Combo!

2 December 2014

The IPCC found that in order to get onto a 2°C pathway, there needs to be a massive shift in energy investment flows in the next 15 years. Hundreds of billions of dollars would need to be annually shifted away from fossil fuel investments, and into, first and foremost, energy efficiency, and secondarily, renewable energy.

In energy supply, zero and low-carbon energies would need to at least triple or quadruple by 2050. Out of the technology options outlined, renewable energy, particularly solar and wind energy, are the most promising trends, with most co-benefits and fewest risks.

There’s enough potential in renewables to meet all of our energy needs. Renewables have advanced substantially in performance and cost-efficiency since the last IPCC report in 2007. During 2005-2012, wind and solar PV grew 5 and 25 times, respectively. They are now ready to be deployed at a significant scale. Renewable energy is also best suited to respond to the energy needs of the poorest and most vulnerable people.

None of this can be said of nuclear or Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). The IPCC found that nuclear is a mature technology, but it is declining in efficacy in addition to facing various barriers and risks. Excluding it from future options won’t make a big difference to mitigation costs.

CCS still features in many scenarios, but isn’t happening in reality. Since the AR4 in 2007, “studies have underscored a growing number of practical challenges to commercial investment in CCS”, the IPCC found. By the time the AR5 went to press, not a single commercial scale CCS project in the power sector was in operation. This makes any cost assumptions on CCS (including the costs of excluding it) highly speculative.

As CCS remains no more than am abstract theory, getting to zero carbon means phasing out fossil fuels, and phasing in renewables.

While renewable energy and energy efficiency clearly are the winning combo, barriers still remain in their fast deployment. Here’s where cooperation on technology and enabling finance is crucial.

So let’s just get on with it, shall we?

Wondering How? Efficiency and Renewables are the Winning Combo!

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