IEA examines role of G7 countries in achieving net zero


The latest report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) – “Achieving Net Zero Electricity Sectors in G7 Members” – released on October 20, is designed to inform discussions at the COP26 climate change conference from November to Glasgow.

The 99 pages report, which was requested by the UK, which holds the G7 Presidency this year, is based on the IEA at Net Zero by 2050. It indicates that G7 members are well positioned to completely decarbonise their supply of carbon. electricity by 2035, which would accelerate the technological advances and infrastructure deployments needed to drive global energy markets to net zero emissions. It follows the G7 summit, where the leaders of Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and the United States met. The United States and the EU are all committed to achieving a “massively carbon-free” electricity system by the 2030s and net zero emissions in their economies by 2050 at the latest.

The G7 now accounts for nearly 40% of the global economy, 36% of global electricity production capacity, 30% of global energy demand, and 25% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. energy. Its transition to clean energy is already underway, with coal giving way to cleaner options, the report notes. The electricity sector accounts for one-third of the G7’s energy-related emissions, up from a peak of almost two-fifths in 2007. In 2020, natural gas and renewables were the main sources of electricity in the G7 , each providing about 30% of the total, with almost 20% of nuclear and coal each.

As in previous IEA reports, nuclear is seen as a secondary role to renewable energy sources in achieving net zero targets. According to the IEA’s trajectory towards net zero by 2050, renewables must provide 60% of the G7 electricity supply by 2030, while under current policies they are on the way to ‘reach 48%. The G7 has the opportunity to demonstrate that power systems with 100% renewable energy during specific times of the year and in certain places can be safe and affordable, the report notes.

At the same time, the increased reliance on renewable energies is forcing the G7 to lead the way in finding solutions to maintain electrical security, including seasonal storage and more flexible and robust grids. He notes that “mature technologies such as hydropower and light water nuclear reactors only contribute about 15% of reductions in the IEA path,” while 55% come from “the deployment of technologies that have still a huge room for improvement, such as onshore wind and solar photovoltaic technologies, or in early adoption phase, such as heat pumps and storage batteries. ”Technologies still under development, such as floating offshore wind, carbon and hydrogen capture would provide an additional 30%.

The summary and policy recommendations of the report are as follows:

  • The IEA’s Net Zero Emissions by 2050 (NZE) scenario targets a trajectory to limit the increase in global average temperature to 1.5 ° C. The scenario focuses on the energy sector, which is today responsible for around three quarters of global CO2 emissions. It describes a possible path to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 without any compensation outside the energy sector; applies a comprehensive energy modeling framework; and draws on the latest energy data, state of technology and policy settings around the world.
  • The IEA Net Zero by 2050 Roadmap identifies more than 400 industry and technology specific milestones, enabling the global electricity sector to reach net zero by 2040, thereby enabling reduce emissions in other sectors through electrification. Milestones for 2030 include electric vehicles topping 60% of new car sales, scaling up to 150 million tonnes of low-carbon hydrogen production, and all new buildings ready to go zero. carbon. In industry, all electric motors are best-in-class by 2035 and 90% of heavy industry output uses low-emission technologies by 2050. Overall, energy efficiency of key products is expected to double over the next decade.
  • Investment in the NZE’s energy system will more than double by 2030 to nearly $ 5,000 billion, and the power sector is attracting more investment than any other. Average annual investment in clean energy and electricity grids will more than triple by 2030, fueled by growing demand for electricity and the dramatic growth in wind and solar PV generation.
  • Innovation and international cooperation are important to achieve net zero. While the technologies needed to meet emission reduction targets by 2030 in the NZE are widely available, more than half of the reductions in 2050 come from technologies not yet available on the market. International cooperation is essential to bring new technologies to commercial maturity and to unlock the necessary financing. Without the cooperation assumed in the NZE, the deployment of key technologies and the achievement of net zero emissions could be delayed by decades.
  • Transitions to net zero electricity call for the rapid scale-up of renewables and other low-emission technologies to relentlessly replace fossil fuels. Global renewable energy capacity has more than tripled to over 10,000 GW by 2030, with annual additions of wind and solar photovoltaic power exceeding 1,000 GW that year. Wind and solar photovoltaic power will drop from 10% of production in 2020 to 40% by 2030 and 70% by 2050. Relentless global coal production drops by two-thirds by 2030 and is completely phased out by 2040 in the NZE. Carbon, hydrogen and ammonia capture technologies help reduce emissions from the remaining coal and natural gas power plants. Hydropower and nuclear power continue to play an important role in generation and contribute to the growing need for system flexibility, in addition to the growth in battery storage.

Peter Altmaier, German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, said the energy sector plays a key role on the road to climate neutrality. “Solutions are within reach, such as phasing out coal-fired power generation in Germany and other countries. The IEA report shows how the G7 can live up to its pioneering role in this regard – an issue that will remain topical during the German G7 Presidency in 2022. ”

The declaration on the report of the UK Presidency of the G7 – Net-Zero Power: Commitment to Action – welcomed the IEA report and said that decarbonizing power systems in the 2030s requires the G7 to step up the deployment of renewables and triples investments in clean power generation and supporting grid infrastructure over the next decade. “Unlocking the potential of energy efficiency, ‘the first fuel’ for reducing emissions, is also essential for a just and people-centered energy transition, energy security and job creation. The statement noted that international collaboration is essential to accelerate innovation and the deployment of clean technologies. “We note Mission Innovation’s goal of demonstrating by 2030 that power systems in different geographic areas and climates are capable of efficiently integrating up to 100% variable renewable energies. “

He adds: “A range of institutions are working with international partners, including members of the G7, to develop and deploy critical initiatives in the electricity sector, including the work of the IEA, the International Agency. for renewable energies, from the Clean Energy Ministerial, from Mission Innovation. , the Super-Efficient Appliance Deployment Initiative and the work of the Powering Past Coal Alliance and the Energy Transition Council. The International Atomic Energy Agency is not recognized.

The statement concludes: “The UK Presidency of the G7 welcomes the steps and recommendations set out in the report and appreciates the role of the IEA in monitoring and reviewing the progress of the global energy transition. The findings of the report will help inform further actions and we hope they will lay the groundwork for collaboration among G7 members in the future. There is no mention anywhere in the declaration of nuclear energy.

Photo: Cover of the IEA report Achieving Net Zero Electricity Sectors in G7 Members (Source IEA)

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