The Mitigation Challenge What Can be Done and What Role Can Energy Technology Play

One key question is, do we need new technology, or can we provide deep emission reductions with currently available generation and end use technologies? Three mitigation studies were analyzed to attempt to answer this important question. Enkvist [13] argues that the least expensive way to mitigate emissions in the short term will be to provide incentives to utilize existing technology, both on the end use efficiency side, buildings and mobile sources, and for low emission generation technologies, such as nuclear and wind. He also suggests that state of the art mitigation of non-CO2 sources could be significant as well. The sum of the mitigation achievable with these state of the art technologies yields an annual savings of about 7.5 Gt CO2 by 2030. However, assuming that the 3% global growth rate will continue until 2030 in the absence of such a mitigation program and that we wish to constrain warming to below about 2.5 ± 0.7°C, it will be necessary to reduce emissions by about 30 Gt CO2 in 2030. In the absence of fundamental cultural and lifestyle changes that dramatically reduce our energy usage, new energy technology will need to be developed and utilized if potentially catastrophic climate change is to be avoided. Based on the Enkvist analysis, such technology would need to be utilized to yield 74% of the required reduction in 2030. Less dependence on new technology could result if CO2 emission growth rate would rapidly decelerate to about 1.6% annually, a typical growth rate in the 1990s. Barring an extended worldwide economic slowdown, this appears unlikely. In this case, available technologies could provide about 56% of the required mitigation.

Similar calculations have been made based on mitigation analyses conducted by Pacala [14] for the years 2004-2054 and IEA [6] for the years 2030-2050. For both references, when one calculates the role that existing technologies could play within the time frame of their assumed mitigation programs, it is estimated that such an aggressive utilization of existing technology could provide only about 25% of the required mitigation if the current 3% growth rate continues and about 45% of the needed mitigation if global emission growth decreases to a 1.6% CO2 growth rate in the near term.

It should be noted that in the three studies described above, the estimate of the role that new technology must play is based on minimizing mitigation costs. It may be possible in some situations to push the use of existing technology to achieve greater carbon reductions. For example, earlier and more extensive use of current solar conversion technology could displace some coal utilizing carbon capture and storage (CCS), but at a much higher cost.

Therefore, it does not appear possible, in the absence of lifestyle/behavioral/ structural changes to mitigate the roughly 4 trillion tonnes of CO2 that may be required to constrain warming below 2.0 ± 0.7°C this century, without the extensive use of improved and in some cases breakthrough energy technologies. Such technologies are necessary for both energy production and to enhance end use efficiency (i.e., lower emission vehicles).

In order to understand the potential of various energy technologies to prevent CO2 emissions, IEA [7] evaluated two key mitigation scenarios: the Accelerated Technology (ACT) scenario, which was formulated in their original Energy Technology Perspectives report in 2006 [6], and the new Blue Scenario formulated in the updated version of their analysis [7]. The recent scenario analysis was done at the request of G-8 Leaders and Energy Ministers in 2007. Of these, the Blue Map scenario is the most aggressive. The scenario assumes an aggressive and successful research, development, and demonstration program (RD&D) to develop and improve technologies and a comprehensive technology demonstration and deployment program. It also assumes policies in place that would encourage the use of these technologies in an accelerated time frame. These include CO2 reduction incentives to encourage low-carbon technologies with costs up to US $200/metric ton CO2. The incentives could take the form of regulation, pricing, tax breaks, voluntary programs, subsidies, or trading schemes.

Figure 1.23 illustrates the emission projections assumed for the two mitigation scenarios compared with the assumed baseline emission projection. The fundamental difference between the scenarios is that the ACT option aims at decreasing CO2 emissions in 2050 to 2005 levels, while the more aggressive Blue scenario aims to reduce 2005 emissions in half by 2050. Also shown is the projected CO2 concentrations in 2100 and the author's calculated values of 2100 and ultimate (equilibrium) warming for both scenarios. Included, is a plot depicting the implications of the current 3% emission growth rate if it would continue until 2030. As depicted on Fig. 1.23 for the ACT Map scenario extended to 2100, MAGICC calculations indicate best guess warming of 2.7°C relative to the pre-industrial era. For the Blue scenario, warming in 2100 is projected to be 2.3°C. Such significant warming is

2000 2010 2020 2030 2040 2050 2060 2070 2080 2090 2100

Fig. 1.23 The ACT and Blue IEA emission scenarios and their projected warming impacts. Note: T2100=best estimate warming in 2100; Te=best estimate equilibrium warming

2000 2010 2020 2030 2040 2050 2060 2070 2080 2090 2100

Fig. 1.23 The ACT and Blue IEA emission scenarios and their projected warming impacts. Note: T2100=best estimate warming in 2100; Te=best estimate equilibrium warming

2005

Baseline 2030

Baseline 2050

ACT Map 2050

BLUE Map 2050

Fig. 1.24 Emissions by sector for Baseline, ACT, and Blue scenarios to 2050 in Gt CO2

2005

Baseline 2030

Baseline 2050

ACT Map 2050

BLUE Map 2050

Fig. 1.24 Emissions by sector for Baseline, ACT, and Blue scenarios to 2050 in Gt CO2

projected, despite the IEA assumption of an aggressive RD&D and deployment program, the optimistic assumption of a 1.7% growth rate in the near term compared to the recent 3% annual growth rate, and for the Blue scenario, the assumption that early and deep global reductions are implemented.

Figure 1.24 illustrates the energy sector implications of the ACT and Blue scenarios compared with projected baseline emissions up to the year 2050. For the less aggressive ACT scenario, major savings are achieved in the power generation sector. However, for the Blue scenario, major reductions are required in every energy sector.

Figure 1.25 summarizes the results of the IEA analysis by identifying technologies contributing to the CO2 avoidance of both the ACT and Blue Map scenarios to 2050. The sum of all the bars yields the 35 and 48 Gt avoidance goals for the ACT and Blue scenarios, respectively. The figure illustrates the projected avoidance by

TRANSPORT

Fig. 1.25 Technologies needed to meet ACT and Blue Map Scenarios avoidance goal of 35 and 48 Gt CO2 in 2050, respectively

TRANSPORT

Fig. 1.25 Technologies needed to meet ACT and Blue Map Scenarios avoidance goal of 35 and 48 Gt CO2 in 2050, respectively technology in the key sectors. As can be seen, a diverse array of technologies in all energy sectors will be needed if these avoidance goals are to be met, especially for the Blue scenario. Of particular importance are end use technologies in the building, transport, and power generation sectors; and carbon storage technologies in the power generation and industrial sectors. It is important to note that the IEA [7] has characterized the technological changes that would be necessary to achieve carbon reductions consistent with these scenarios: as "A global revolution in ways that energy is supplied and used". For the more aggressive Blue scenario they concluded: "The Blue scenarios require urgent implementation of unprecedented and far reaching new policies in the energy sector."

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