Four Green Technologies Growing Fast Enough To Achieve Zero-Emissions World, IEA Says

Four green technologies are growing fast enough to do their part in a zero-carbon-emissions world by mid-century, an International Energy Agency official said this week in Chicago.
But they need a little help from other technologies, said Eric Masenet, the head of IEA's Energy Demand Technology Unit, which studies practical paths to the international community's climate goals.
Electric vehicles, energy storage, solar photovoltaic and wind are growing fast enough, their costs dropping quickly enough, with public policies supporting them well enough, he said, to meet those goals.
"This year for the very first time there are four technology categories that are actually on track," Masenet said. "Their current current deployment levels, their cost trajectories, their deployment trajectories, the policies that are in place are putting them on track today for achieving where they need to be to meet the 2DS vision. And this is a very exciting result for us, but it shouldn’t be taken for granted, and I'll explain why."
"The 2DS Vision" refers to a 2º Celsius scenario, in which the human-caused increase in global average surface temperature is held to no more than 2º C. The IEA is also chasing a "Beyond 2º C Scenario," in keeping with the Paris Agreement, in which the world keeps the temperature increase as close as possible to 1.5ºC.
To achieve either of those scenarios in time to prevent widespread disruption of life on earth, societies need more than just solar PV and wind, Masenet said. They also need solar thermal, geothermal, offshore wind, and an increase in hydropower.
"While solar PV and wind are leading the transition and have been a big success story, they can’t make up for the rest of the renewable energy portfolio and where that whole category of technologies needs to be in order to stay on track for the 2DS," Masenet said.
Both the absolute level of renewable energy and the worlds' share of renewable energy need to increase rapidly enough to eclipse fossil fuels by 2050.
"Our technical analyses suggest that it can be done, and it can be done in cost effective fashion and that we can reach a fully decarbonized global power grid by roughly the year 2050," Masenet said.
Right now total renewables account for about 25 percent of global energy, he said. To stay on track, that number needs to increase to 35 percent by 2025.
The effort also needs the assistance of carbon capture and storage, not only to capture unavoidable emissions (like aircraft and shipping emissions), but also to turn bio-energy into an emissions sink. (Read how: The World Needs Carbon Capture, IEA Warns, And It's Not Happening.)
Masanet, who is also a mechanical engineering professor at Northwestern University, unveiled the IEA's Energy Technology Perspectives 2017 report this week at Coalition Energy, a co-working space for energy innovators on Chicago's Michigan Avenue. The event was sponsored by the Energy Policy Institute of Chicago, Smart Grid Cluster, Energy Foundry, and the Clean Energy Trust.

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