“Zero-carbon power, though hugely important, is insufficient, because electricity currently accounts for only 20% of global energy consumption”
investment needs to be matched by accelerated progress in battery technology, or by other tools to match electricity demand to intermittent supply. But there is no doubt that, by mid-century, the world can build a cost-effective zero-carbon electricity system.
And yet zero-carbon power, though hugely important, is insufficient, because electricity currently accounts for only 20% of global energy consumption. Broader changes to the global energy system are needed.
Road transport and aviation, which currently rely almost entirely on liquid fossil fuels, account for 30% of total energy consumption. Decarbonisation of these activities will require either electrification or the use of hydrogen or biofuels. This is certainly feasible, but it will take time.
Heating buildings is another area where major changes are needed. Here, the more widespread use of zero-carbon electricity, instead of fossil-fuel-based energy, could have a major impact. But there are also important opportunities to design and construct buildings and cities that are substantially more energy-efficient. With the world’s urban population expected to increase by 2.5 billion by 2050, it is vital that we grasp them.
Energy use by heavy industry energy, however, presents