Developing renewable energy targets for the G20
Based on the trends in energy demand and supply for the past 15 years (2005-2020) F20 has asked the University of Sydney two calculate two projections.
- Trend projection: The Trend projection suggests that friends of the past 15 years would continue for the next 30 years. until 2050. The average growth rates for coal-, gas-, and oil-based electricity. heat generation and transport fuel supply would continue. Renewables would only be deployed if the overall energy demand is not met with the projected growth in fossil fuels.
- Target projection: The Target projection suggests that the unsustainable burning of coal, oil, and gas to generate energy would be entirely transformed into using renewable energy – mainly solar and wind within the next 50-60 years.
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The Trend and Target projections provide an overview of whether countries are on track to decarbonize their energy sectors and where changes are required.
Primary Energy Supply. Until 2050, the Trend projection forecasts that fossil fuels supply 84% of the primary energy generation with only a slight increase in using renewable sources.
Under the Target projection, the contributions of coal and oil would decrease by 40% by 2030 and be replaced by renewables. Then 64% of the G20’s primary energy would come from renewables, increasing to 96% in 2040 and 100% in 2050.
Final energy consumption. A continuation of the energy growth Trend of 1.9% per year will increase the final energy consumption by 72% by 2050, while under the Target projection, annual energy efficiency gains of 1.5% will stabilize the energy demand, with only a minor increase over the next 30 years.
Electricity demand. The Trend projection follows the average annual electricity demand development (as a percentage) of the past 15 years and increases gradually until 2050.
The Target projection removes 1.5% annually from the demand calculated for the Trend projection which represents the suggested average efficiency gain, and by 2030, 33% of the heating supply will be covered by electricity, whereas the electrification rate of the transport sector will increase to 70%. The electricity demand is expected to increase significantly with the growing decarbonization of the energy sector due to the high electrification rate.
Electricity generation. Under the Trend projection, by 2050, the renewables share of the power generation mix in the G20 would reach zero under the assumption that the growth of fossil-fuel-based power generation will have priority over renewables-based power generation. Even though this is highly unlikely, it shows how significant the growth of gas- and coal-fired power generation has been in past years and indicates that renewables-based power generation is not on the required trajectory in most countries.
Under the Target projection, though, all G7 and G20 member countries can achieve a renewable energy share of 70% on average, ranging significantly from 46% in the UK to 81% in China.
Space heat and process heat. The heat demand has increased by 1.3% annual, on average, across all G20 member states. In the past 15 years, the generation of biomass-based heating decreased by 12%, while the generation of solar and electric heating increased accordingly. Space heating is dominated by gas, whereas process heating is dominated by coal.
Under the Trend projection, renewable heat generation would decline further, to only 3% by 2050, whereas demand would continue to increase. The Target projection entails a renewable heating share of 57% by 2030 for the G20 and a slightly lower demand than in 2019. Fossil would will be phased-out by 93% by 2040, with coal declining more rapidly than gas.
Transport. The transport sector is dominated by oil, whereas natural gas contributes only 2% in the G20. In 2019, biofuels contributed around 4.5% to the transport energy supply and electricity only 2%. In the Trend projection the use of electricity in the transport sector would decline in the G20 under the assumption that the growth of oil would be prioritized over the growth of electricity. However, electricity use for transport would increase in the G7, an indication of successful policies that support electric mobility, although this would not occur rapidly enough to phase-out oil by 2050. Under the G20 Target projection renewable electricity would grow to 62% by 2030, due to the assumed decline in oil by 6.5% per year (on average) across the G20.
Energy-related CO2 emissions. The trend in energy-related carbon emissions in the G20 since 2005 went into the wrong direction— not a steady decline as needed and as it was agreed in many political fora, but an increase of around 2.5% per year. To achieve the Paris Climate Agreement though, the emissions of all the G20 member states must decrease by about 60%, from 32 GtCO2 in 2019 to 13.5 GtCO2 in 2030.
According to the suggested Trend trajectory, emission will double by 2050, and by 2030, energy-related CO2 emissions will increase by about 30%, whereas the calculated emissions under the Target projection will decrease to 42% of the 2020 emissions. Under the ‘Trend’ projection the cumulative CO2 emissions between 2020 and 2050 would add about 1,470 GtCO2—4.5 times the G20’s carbon budget required to remain under 1.5ºc.
Summary—Projected renewable energy targets. To remain within the carbon budget that will limit global warming to +1.5ºc, drastic changes in existing energy policies are required to support energy efficiency and the uptake of renewable energies. Establishing nationally legally binding targets for renewable energies has proven an effective and successful policy measure. Targets of renewable shares in percentage per annum are therefore well suited, as they always represent a combination of energy efficiency and (renewable) energy generation.
However, renewable targets must be accompanied by policies to implement them. In the Target projection, renewable energy shares for primary energy, electricity generation, heat generation, and transport must be in the range of 57%–71% by 2030, for all member countries.