ESG Thema #6 – Carbon-efficient technologies in the race to Net Zero

December 20, 2021
  • Although its decarbonisation has been under way for several years now, as highlighted by the strong growth in renewable power capacities, the power sector still accounts for 38% of global energy- and industry-related CO2 emissions.
  • The decarbonisation pace of this crucial sector remains too slow compared to scenarios consistent with limiting global warming to +1.5°C.
  • Although renewable energies such as wind and solar remain the central piece of the equation, close to 20% of global power supply would need to come from alternative low-carbon power solutions in 2040 according to the IEA NZE 2050.
  • In this paper, we assess the decarbonisation potential of four types of solutions and technologies: nuclear power, carbon capture and storage (CCS), woody biomass and low-carbon hydrogen.
  • Safe nuclear power has a role to play in the race to Net Zero. However, a nuclear “renaissance” cannot happen without policy support and long-term visibility.
  • Although its application to the fossil power sector should remain at margin, Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is a much needed technology in the race to Net Zero. The IEA Roadmap counts on it to deliver 9% of the emissions cuts needed by 2035.
  • Biomass power capacity needs to rise significantly in almost all scenarios consistent with the 1.5°C temperature target. However, evidence increasingly reveals that woody biomass is on a thin rope to deliver positive contribution to climate goals while limiting risks to ecosystems at the same time.
  • We see clean hydrogen as much needed in some hard-to-abate sectors such as steel or chemicals. A great number of key economic and regulatory obstacles have yet to be overcome though, to prove its sustainability case compared to other low-carbon alternatives in several applications.

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