Electricity as a percentage of total final energy demand is expected to increase from 20 per cent today to nearly 70 per cent by 2050, according to Energy Transitions Commission (ETC). This translates to a near five-fold increase in the size of the global power system over the next 30 years. Over 75 per cent of new power generation could be sourced from low-carbon resources (e.g. wind and solar) to support net-zero targets. This would be a significant increase from current levels where renewables make up around 10 per cent of total electricity supply.
Scaling up and decarbonising the global power system is estimated to cost around USD2 trillion per annum in investment, according to the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC). The ETC builds the case for why power should be a priority for national economies ahead of other decarbonising activities. This is because decarbonising power early on will support emission reductions across the wider economy. It will also enable the production of climate critical low-carbon fuels like green hydrogen to support decarbonising heavy industries and transport.
According to the ETC, it’s technically and economically feasible for the world to develop a near fully decarbonised power system that is five times larger by 2050. Developed economies can achieve a carbon intensity of power below 30gCO2/KWH by mid-2030s and all developing economies by the mid-2040s. Key drivers to achieving this include setting medium term generation targets, embedding targets into national net-zero strategic plans, supporting power market design that fosters zero-carbon growth, and developing effective de-risking mechanisms that increase investments into the sector.
This report by the Energy Transitions Commission analyses what is required to develop a decarbonised power system by mid-century. It also describes why meeting this growth almost entirely from zero-carbon generation sources is feasible and what needs to happen to deliver it.