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Future energy projects: Are we heading towards a cleaner global electricity mix ?

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Energy has been fuelling humanity for centuries, from burning wood for heating and cooking to hydrogen to power vehicles. Energy is more than ever vital to economic development, having access to basic needs such as electricity, heating, cooking, transportation and so on.

However, since the industrial revolution, global CO2 emissions have been rising tremendously to reach more than 50 bn tons in 2019 (compared to 5bn tons in 1950). Among them, energy-related CO2 emission accounts for 33.3 bn tons, highlighting the crucial need to reduce the carbon footprint of that sector.

Despite the announcement of the arrival of disruptive technology aiming at reducing CO2 emissions, such as electric vehicles, smart grids, hydrogen and the dramatic reduction of the cost of renewables, we did not, for the moment, significantly manage to reduce our CO2 emissions. Since the Earth Summit in 1992, the protocol of Kyoto in 1997 and the Paris Agreement in 2015, leaders, policymakers but also the society as a whole acknowledged the pressing need to curb greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit the increase in global temperatures well below 2 degrees by 2100 compared to pre-industrial levels.

Coal, once being the symbol of a thriving United Kingdom, is still one of the main source of energy in the power sector. In 2019, coal accounted for 36% of the global electricity generation, thus being responsible for 30% of the global energy- related CO2 emissions (10 bn tons of CO2 emissions). Now being marginal in Europe, many other regions in the world, mainly in Asia, have built dozens of coal power plant to sustain their economy and the growing needs of an increasing population. The efforts from more advanced economies to decarbonise their economy seems to be jeopardized by the development of heavy fossil fuel capacity in some others, less advanced economies.

This report aims at assessing if, in the next coming decade, the trend for future energy projects and future electricity capacity will be dedicated massively to low carbon and renewable solutions or if we will have to deal with a mix of fossil fuel and renewables, thus mitigating the possibility of a sharp reduction of CO2 emissions.

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Edouard Lotz's picture

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Sep 28, 2020 4:50 pm GMT

In 2019, coal accounted for 36% of the global electricity generation, thus being responsible for 30% of the global energy- related CO2 emissions (10 bn tons of CO2 emissions). Now being marginal in Europe, many other regions in the world, mainly in Asia, have built dozens of coal power plant to sustain their economy and the growing needs of an increasing population.

The new generation in Asia is definitely one of the most important, but trickiest, areas to tackle. How do countries that for decades have benefited from industrial economies built on the back of coal tell an emerging economy trying to do the same that they don't get the same cheap & easy energy to bring them into prominence? This will be a topic we see played out in  international debates for the coming years

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