Implementing an acceptable evolution scenario

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By using the four action points presented in the previous chapters (reducing the consumption of energy, reducing its carbon content, managing fossil fuel supplies, and capturing and storing emitted CO2), it is possible to satisfy world energy needs, while keeping CO2 emissions within acceptable limits.

In order to demonstrate that it is feasible, let us examine evolution scenarios from now to 2050. The year 2050 represents a limit for any present extrapolation and is also an important landmark for the global CO2 balance. It is at this date at the latest that we need to stabilise the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere (which requires, as it has already been mentioned, an action plan to be started now).

Starting from the present level of consumption (considering 2006 as the reference year), the BAU ('Business as usual') scenario, is obtained by extrapolating the present trends. According to this scenario, world energy consumption will double within less than fifty years, from 11.7Gtoe/year in 2006 to 22.7Gtoe/year in 2050. The major share (80%) is still supplied by fossil fuels; coal represents 30% of the primary energy supply, oil 32% and natural gas 22%. The corresponding CO2 emissions rise from 27.9 Gt/year in 2006 to 52 Gt/year in 2050. This scenario is clearly intolerable. However, it is not the most pessimistic one.

The second alternative (Alt) scenario aims to fulfil the same needs, but with an emission level reduced to 14.5 Gt/year in 2050, which is a reduction factor of 3.6 when compared with the reference scenario (BAU) (Figure 9.1).

The Alt scenario is obtained by acting upon the four points described previously:

- Improving the energy efficiency results by 2050 in reducing by 44% the annual energy consumption (when compared with the BAU scenario), from a consumption of 22.7Gtoe/year to a consumption of 12.6 Gtoe/year.

- The total share of fossil fuels decreases from 80 to 59%.

D Renewables

+ nuclear M Natural gas 0 Coal

S oil

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Figure 9.1 Comparison between the reference (BAU) scenario and the alternative (Alt) scenario

- Coal consumption is divided by three as compared with the BAU scenario and represents only 16% of the total energy consumption in the Alt scenario.

- The consumption of hydrocarbons, although strongly reduced when compared with the BAU scenario, remains still close to the present level, with a significant increase in the share of natural gas, which implies a significant effort to maintain the corresponding level of production.

The Alt scenario is consistent with the assumption of oil consumption reaching a ceiling before 2050, declining later, and coming back to a level lower than the present one by 2050. It implies the use of oil mainly for engine fuels production to achieve a large reduction in demand and the need to develop alternatives (biofuels, plug-in hybrids and possibly hydrogen as an energy vector by 2050).

The consumption of natural gas is supposed to increase until 2030 and then to become stable according to a consumption plateau.

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