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Energy efficiency and conservation, fuel switching and low-carbon electricity

World Cement,

This is the second part of a two-part article. To read part one, click here.

Extracts from the Executive Summary of the interim report

'Limiting the increase in global mean temperature to less than 2 °C imposes a tough constraint on cumulative GHG emissions, including CO2 emissions, which are the largest single source (76%) of GHG emissions. To have a likely chance – defined as a probability higher than two-thirds – of staying within this limit, the level of cumulative CO2 emissions from land use, fossil fuels, and industry must be in the range of 550 – 1300 billion t (Gigatons or Gt) by mid-century. If one excludes a significant contribution from net negative emissions, the CO2 budget to 2050 is 825 Gt. Staying within this CO2 budget requires very near-term peaking and a sharp reduction in CO2 emissions thereafter, especially in energy-related CO2 emissions. The scenarios reviewed by the IPCC that give a likely chance of staying within the 2 °C limit project CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and industrial processes (“CO2-energy emissions”) close to 11 Gt in 2050 on average (down from 34 Gt in 2011). The IEA Energy Technology Perspective (ETP) 2 °C scenario (2DS), which gives only a 50% chance of staying within the 2 °C limit, reaches 15 Gt CO2-energy in 2050. Assuming a world population of 9.5 billion people by 2050 – in line with the medium fertility forecast of the UN Population Division – this means that countries would need to converge close to a global average of CO2-energy emissions per capita of 1.6 t in 2050, which is a sharp decrease compared to today's global average of 5.2 t, especially for developed countries with current emissions per capita much higher than today's global average.'

Three pillars of successful decarbonization

The report summarises the three pillars for the deep decarbonisation of energy systems, as follows:

'1) Energy efficiency and conservation: Greatly improved energy efficiency in all energy end-use sectors including passenger and goods transportation, through improved vehicle technologies, smart urban design, and optimised value chains; residential and commercial buildings, through improved end-use equipment, architectural design, building practices, and construction materials; and industry, through improved equipment, production processes, material efficiency, and re-use of waste heat.

2) Low-carbon electricity: Decarbonization of electricity generation through the replacement of existing fossil-fuel-based generation with renewable energy (e.g. hydro, wind, solar, and geothermal), nuclear power, and/or fossil fuels (coal, gas) with carbon capture and storage (CCS).

3) Fuel Switching: Switching end-use energy supplies from highly carbon-intensive fossil fuels in transportation, buildings, and industry to lower carbon fuels, including low-carbon electricity, other low-carbon energy carriers synthesized from electricity generation or sustainable biomass, or lower-carbon fossil fuels.'

Different solutions for different countries

The report goes on to add:

'Within the three pillars that are common to all countries, individual DDPs show a wide variety of different approaches based on national circumstances. Differentiating national circumstances include socio-economic conditions, the availability of renewable energy resources, and national preferences regarding the development of renewable energy, nuclear power, CCS, and other technologies. For example, the DDP developed by the Indian team decarbonizes power generation using primarily renewable energy and nuclear power, but not CCS, because the scale of the potential for geological carbon sequestration in India is still uncertain. At the other end of the spectrum, the DDPs developed by the Canadian, Chinese, Indonesian, Mexican, Russian, and UK teams project a significant share of coal and gas-fired power generation with CCS by 2050.

“These pathways, and the discussion over their results and assumptions, are an essential tool for learning and problem solving,” said Emmanuel Guerin, associate director of the SDSN and senior project manager of the DDPP. “They are crucial to outline the long-term visions of deep decarbonization and shape the expectations of countries, businesses and investors about future socio-economic development opportunities.”'

How does this affect the cement industry?

World Cement’s Katherine Guenioui comments: “The cement industry falls on both the ‘problem’ and ‘solution’ side of the decarbonization story. As a major emitter of CO2, it is already working to improve energy efficiency, switch fuels and reduce the clinker factor to reduce its carbon footprint. But as a provider of a resilient, thermally efficient building material, it will certainly play its part in the future of low-carbon construction.”

Adapted from DDPP press release and Executive Summary by World Cement.

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