In the latest World Energy Outlook (WEO), the International Energy Agency suggests that the energy demand is set to grow by more than 25% by 2040, requiring more than $2 trillion a year of investment in new energy supply.
In this elevating situation, the challenge to control CO2 emissions in the energy sector is all the more crucial to keep temperatures above a 1.5°C increase. Indeed, as discussed in a recent IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching 'net zero' around 2050 to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
To support the long-term objectives of the Paris agreement, IEA proposes a Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS) that provides an integrated strategy to achieve the key energy-related elements of the United Nations Sustainable Development agenda, including energy access, air quality and climate objectives. It considers a high level of electrification of car fleet and building heating, an increase of renewables in power mix and an explosion of the Carbon Capture and Storage capacities.
According to the SDS scenario, it is about 180 GW of new Solar PV capacities and 120 GW of Wind capacities that need to be built every year by 2040 to fit the demand. We might wonder if such new intermittent renewable energy sources can easily be plugged to the power grid and how to fit evening peak demand that could be exacerbated by new usage (especially building heating) during winter. The French electric consumption pattern is a good example of what could be the future of many countries.
An explosion of solar and to a lesser extent wind capacities have to be combined with storage solutions to pass peaks without the help of remaining fossil-fuel power plants. In the SDS scenario, new battery storage capacities amount to only 300GW.
If we strongly encourage a greener power-mix in the future and a drastic decrease of coal use, we also recommend further thoughts on the moderation of energy consumption.