Dave Elliott: Energy demand may have fallen during the COVID-19 shut down, but if the global economy gets back to something like its earlier level, it will rise again. Indeed, as before, it may rise faster than renewables can expand, so that carbon emissions will also keep rising. That certainly was the pattern in some sectors before COVID 19. But it is not the complete story- in some cases, demand had been falling, for example for electricity in some countries. And obviously it could do more, with proper support for energy efficiency measures. That too would help cut emissions. However, with wind and solar power output growing ‘at an annual average of 20.8% and 50.2%, respectively, over the past decade’, as costs fall, and new nuclear and CCS pretty much stalled, it may be best just to help renewables (and energy saving) pick up pace even more. That surely makes more sense than diverting resources to arguably dubious high tech and high cost long shots like nuclear and CCS. They are still being promoted hard, as in the UK Energy System Catapult’s ‘Innovating to Net Zero’ report, which includes a 2050 scenario with 30 GW of nuclear and major industrial CCS and BECCS projects. Not an approach that the FIRES study seemed to hold out much hope for, as I reported earlier. In the post-pandemic context, money will be tighter, so better use will have to be made of it. In 2019, renewable capacity reached over 2.5 TW globally, expanding by 7.6% and accounting for 72% of new energy projects. With costs falling, that seems to be the best way to go, and in my next post I look at a new EU 100% renewable scenario, which show how it might be done.
Renew Extra 30th May 2020 read more »