Energy giant builds a system scenario to achieve Paris climate goals
This is to dovetail with the goals of the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change that seeks to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2⁰C, above pre-industrial levels.
At a media roundtable at Shell’s Singapore office last week, Jeremy Bentham, Vice-President, Global Business Environment, and Head of Shell Scenarios, said: “To move towards the Paris Accord, we need to reduce Shell’s carbon footprint by 50 per cent by 2050.”
Shell is on the energy transition path — it is now more a gas company than an oil company and is getting more into renewables and electricity, he added.
Bentham also launched Shell’s latest energy-system scenario, called Sky, in Singapore.
This scenario lays out what the company says is a technically possible, but challenging, pathway for society to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement including net-zero emissions from energy use by 2070.
To meet this ambitious target, Sky envisages re-wiring the global economy by deploying disruptive new technologies on a mass scale.
From now until 2070, the rate of electrification of final energy will more than triple, with global electricity generation reaching nearly five times today’s level. Electricity will exceed 50 per cent of end-use energy consumption by the 2070s.
Also according to the scenario, as early as 2030, more than half of global car sales will be electric, and this will extend to all cars by 2050.
Further, new energy sources will grow 50-fold, with primary energy from renewables eclipsing fossil fuels in the 2050s.
Solar will become the dominant primary energy supply source by around 2055.
Sky sees adoption of carbon-pricing mechanisms by governments globally over the 2020s to incentivise cleaner technologies.
While coal will decline rapidly with the peak already behind us, oil demand will peak and begin to decline by the 2030s. Demand for natural gas will fall after 2040.
That said, while deep electrification occurs across the energy system, fossil fuels will continue in areas where substitution is difficult. But carbon capture and storage systems will play a key role here.
Offering further gains on the climate front could be large-scale reforestation the size of Brazil — this could possibly limit warming to 1.5⁰C above pre-industrial levels.
Emphasising the importance of Asia in the realisation of the Sky scenario, Bentham said: “The biggest global story in achieving the Paris goal has to be Asia. Here, energy consumption per year will double between 2018 and 2070, with nearly half the primary energy coming from renewable energy sources.”
Big story in India
India is one of the 10 focus countries for Shell on energy transition, said Bentham. The big story in India, he said, will be growth in energy consumption.
“If India continues to prosper, in the 2030s, it will be the fastest growing energy market in the world,” he remarked.
Sky sees a lot of the growth in India in the future coming from solar energy. It also sees electrification as a major energy transition in the country.
There will be many energy transitions in India, Bentham said — from rural to urban, from traditional to modern, cleaner fuels, from coal to de-carbonised.
Key role of cities
Earlier, speaking at the Resilience Track of the 6th World Cities Summit, Bentham focused on the importance of sustainable development of cities.
“We are past 50 per cent now on urbanisation and will be at two-thirds by 2050. That will continue. Cities will be critical in achieving the ambitions of the Paris Agreement. For this, urban development must be compact, integrated and collaborative,” he said.
Holding out Singapore as a good example of urban development, Bentham said the city had put scenario planning and thinking to effective use over the decades.
This, he said, aided its transition from a poor country in the 1960s to the urban powerhouse it is today.
The writer was in Singapore recently at the invitation of Shell