Electrification 'does not solve the transition problem': DNV
Even if all electricity were 'green' from this day forward, the world will still fall a long way short of achieving the 2050 net zero emissions ambitions of the COP21 Paris Agreement, according to Norwegian consultancy DNV. And hydrogen will only ever be a minor player in the energy mix for the next 30 years.
It made the claims in its fifth edition of its Energy Transition Outlook (ETO 21) published September 1, two months before COP26 takes place in Glasgow. It called the global pandemic a "lost opportunity" for speeding up the energy transition.
Electrification is on course to double in size within a generation and renewables are already the most competitive source of new power. But DNV's forecast shows global emissions will reduce only 9% by 2030, with the 1.5˚C carbon budget agreed by global economies emptied by then.
While governments worldwide have taken "extraordinary steps to manage the effects of the pandemic and stimulate a recovery," they have not applied the same resolution and urgency in regard to our climate, it said. "We must now see the same sense of urgency to avoid a climate catastrophe."
Energy efficiency is viewed as the most significant lever for the transition, enabling global energy demand to level off, even as the global population and economy grows.
But natural gas will still constitute 50% of the global energy mix by 2050 – making the need to invest in and scale hydrogen, and carbon capture and storage all the more important. Oil demand looks set to halve, with coal use reduced to a third by mid-century.
ETO 2021 also reveals that while 69% of grid-connected power will be generated by wind and solar in 2050, and indirect electrification (hydrogen and e-fuels) and biofuels remain critical, none of these sources are scaling rapidly enough.
Hydrogen is the energy carrier that holds the highest potential to tackle hard to abate emissions but DNV does not see hydrogen meeting as little as 5% of the energy mix by 2050.
"Extraordinary action will be needed to bring the hydrogen economy into full force earlier – but these are extraordinary times. The window to avoid catastrophic climate change is closing soon, and the costs of not doing so unimaginable," said DNV.