More than 350 energy experts and stakeholders gathered online to listen to the predictions of Dr. Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), during the first virtual edition of the World Energy Outlook, organised by Agoria's Energy Technology Club and the FPS Economy. Here is what we learned.
1. Covid-19 caused a shake-up in the energy system
“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the energy sector more than any other event in recent history and the effects will be felt for years to come. If the pandemic is brought under control in 2021, energy demand could return to pre-crisis levels by early 2023. If the pandemic continues, energy demand in this decade will experience the slowest growth in a century.
2. The impact of the crisis varies greatly according to the type of fuel and technology
"After an overall 5% drop in energy demand in 2020, it will be renewables that lead the recovery. Looking to the future, we see that oil and gas will recover somewhat, but the largest increase in energy demand will come from modern renewables, especially solar and wind. It looks as though coal will never recover to pre-crisis levels and will continue its steady decline.”
3. The drastic changes needed can only be made with the support of major stakeholders
"Fortunately, in recent months a number of countries, including the EU, UK and New Zealand, have made pledges to significantly reduce emissions. China, the world's largest CO2 emitter, has also announced its ambition to move to a carbon-free economy by 2060. We expect the US to join this group soon.
In total, we will have committed to a 60% reduction in global emissions. However, that is still far from enough. If we want to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, stronger emission reductions will be needed.”
4. Net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050 will require unprecedented efforts over the next decade
"Everyone has a huge task to accomplish to reach zero emissions by 2050, (energy) companies, investors and citizens alike. Companies will have to deploy clean energy technologies, particularly hydrogen-based solutions. In addition, citizens will have to change their habits, for example by switching to electric vehicles. By 2030, half of all cars sold in the world should be electric. Of course, all of this can only happen if governments provide the right incentives and take the right policy measures."
5. Maintaining the existing infrastructure can lead to a 1.65° C temperature rise
“In the climate debate, we often focus on the clean energy infrastructure that we will build in the coming years. That is important, but it is only part of the great challenge we face. The other question is: 'What do we do with the existing energy infrastructure?' If we are not able to adapt the existing energy infrastructure - which generally runs on fossil fuels - we will not achieve our climate targets.”
What do the participants think?
After the presentation, a live vote was organised among the online attendees, together with an enlightening debate between Minister Tinne Van der Straeten, Secretary of State Thomas Dermine and Dr. Fatih Birol.
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