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Skip to 0 minutes and 13 seconds So what we have seen is that our current energy system is already causing major sustainability concerns. And those concerns will worsen considerably at the moment we keep on producing and using energy we use today, being of fossil fuels and also partly inefficient. So it is very important to wonder how can we avoid it. How can we imagine a future energy system that avoids those problems. Here you see an important example that depicts how such a transition to an other energy systems than we have today on a global scale may look like. Well, the first thing that is striking is that the baseline development that is projected here.

Skip to 0 minutes and 53 seconds So the top of the line that you see there depicts how much our global energy use may increase without taking measures from the current 500 exajoules, a little bit more, that may even quadruple during this century if we don’t take measures. Well the first key measure that you see here is the grey area. And that is meaning increased energy efficiency through all sectors– transport, industry, houses, et cetera. And that is in itself possible. That is also what is the background behind this type of graphics. So limiting the growth. And then the role of key renewable energy sources is increasing strongly. The yellow part is solar energy, a wide range of technologies. The pinkish part is wind energy.

Skip to 1 minute and 37 seconds And at the bottom, you see a considerably increasing share of bioenergy– sustainable bioenergy. In the middle there is still considerable shares of fossil fuels for a long time to stay. But in this carbon-constrained world, as you can say it, we need to use that in combination with carbon capture and storage. Here is another graphic of a key source in this area, the International Energy Agency. That depicts how on shorter term this pathway may already look like. And similar to the previous graphic, you see a whole range of measures that complement each other.

Skip to 2 minutes and 13 seconds Increased energy efficiency through all sectors, increased efficiency in the use of fossil fuels, strongly growing contributions of renewable energy sources, and the use of carbon capture and storage. And this pathway that is projected here till 2050– just 35 years from now– would bring us on the track to reduce the emissions to the way we would like to reduce them over time. But that is just a few examples. This graphic shows how diverse those changes may be. We may say it is more easy to lean on efficiency. And then we need less energy supply options. It may also be in some cases the other way around, that it is very difficult to lower the energy demand.

Skip to 2 minutes and 59 seconds But that means we have to use more of our potentials to produce renewable energy. And that may also be more difficult, and maybe also more expensive. At the moment you may need more of one resource going through the other. And this may also differ from country to country. A certain country may have very little possibilities for renewable energy, meaning that other options have to contribute more. And the other way around. So those energy transitions are complicated, depends on the development pathways, depend on technologies, and depend on possibilities within regions. And then a key question that we have to wonder about– what will this cost? All this new technologies will cost money.

Skip to 3 minutes and 40 seconds Many of them are more expensive than the current fossil fuel-based options. And also they will take money in terms of development and commercialisation, market deployment, et cetera. And this graphic depicts in some way what could be the range of those costs on a global scale of this type of energy transitions we are talking about. And at this end, the magnitude has been estimated of a few percent, maybe up to 5% of global GDP growth in the first half of this century. That is a considerable amount. But it is also not a show-stopper. So we’re looking at that sense at a good possibility that this can be done, both technically and economically.

Possible scenarios and pathways for changing the energy system

In this video, André Faaij will show you possible scenarios and pathways developed by experts. It will give you an insight in the possibilities for changing energy systems. For infographics of some of those scenarios, visit the World Resources Institute. Bear in mind that an important part of those scenarios also are heavily dependent on policies and regulations. Therefore, the legal aspect of the energy puzzle is essential to analyze. We will introduce you to this aspect in Week 3.

Note: In the video, Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is mentioned, but not explained extensively. For an explanation of what CCS is, visit the International Energy Agency.

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This video is from the free online course:

Solving the Energy Puzzle: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Energy Transition

University of Groningen