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Report extract

Technology needs for net-zero emissions

Highlights

An energy sector transition to net-zero CO2 emissions by 2070 of the kind depicted in the Sustainable Development Scenario requires a radical technological transformation of the energy sector. Energy efficiency and renewables are central pillars, but additional technologies are needed to achieve net-zero emissions. Four technology value chains contribute about half of the cumulative CO2 savings: technologies to widely electrify end-use sectors (such as advanced batteries); carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS); hydrogen and hydrogen-related fuels; and bioenergy.

Global energy sector CO2 emissions reductions by measure in the Sustainable Development Scenario relative to the Stated Policies Scenario

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Greater use of clean electricity is central for decarbonisation. The share of electricity in final energy demand grows from one-fifth today to nearly 50% in 2070 in the Sustainable Development Scenario, contributing almost a fifth of cumulative CO2 savings. Electricity demand expands by 30 000 TWh, which means that each year to 2070 sees electricity demand equivalent to the current annual demand of Mexico and the United Kingdom combined be added to the world power system, pushing far more use of solar, wind and other renewables, as well as nuclear power.

CCUS technologies can reduce the emissions of fossil-fired plants in power generation and industry, provide negative emissions, and in the longer term produce carbon-neutral CO2 to produce fuels. In the Sustainable Development Scenario, bioenergy with carbon capture and direct air capture create in combination with storage 3 Gt of negative emissions in 2070 or are used to produce 5 mb/d of clean aviation fuels.

Global hydrogen production grows by a factor of seven to 520 Mt in 2070. Hydrogen use expands to all sectors and reaches a share of 13% in final energy demand in 2070. The development of technologies at the demonstration and prototype stage today leads to hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels becoming important for the decarbonisation of heavy trucks, aviation and shipping as well as for the production of chemicals and steel.

The share of sustainable biomass in primary energy demand doubles to 20% in 2070, reflecting versatility and technology readiness of much of the related value chain. It is used to make transport biofuels and generate power and heat; in both cases, it is frequently coupled with CCUS. Bioenergy provides 12% of the cumulative emissions reductions in the Sustainable Development Scenario.

Global hydrogen demand by sector in the Sustainable Development Scenario, 2019-2070

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