Despite an interesting recent article in the Dutch FD (*), by Mathijs Bouman, on the accuracy of forecasting by IEA, I continue to find the IEA reports very worthwhile to read and reflect upon. There is indeed a potential danger that, in case forecasts are too pessimistic, this could create unwanted actions. Nevertheless, it’s better to be safe than sorry with all negative consequences. (*): the article published in FD (Financial Daily newspaper) on May 15, 2021 outlined the views of a columnist that the advance of solar energy is systematically underestimated by the IEA.
IEA reported, amongst others, the following insights:
“Climate pledges by governments to date – even if fully achieved – are well short of what’s required to bring global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050.”
“Our pathway requires the immediate and massive deployment of all available clean and efficient energy technologies. That includes annual additions of solar PV to reaching 630 gigawatts by 2030, and those of wind power reaching 390 gigawatts. Together, that’s four times the record level set in 2020.”
“Most of the global reductions in CO2 emissions between now and 2030 in our net zero pathway come from technologies already on the market today. But in 2050, almost half the reductions come from technologies that are currently only at the demonstration or prototype phase. This calls for major innovation progress this decade.”
“A rise in CO2 emissions of almost 5% in 2021 compared to 2020.”
“Global energy demand is set to increase by 4.6% in 2021, more than offsetting the 4% contraction in 2020 and pushing demand 0.5% above 2019 levels.”
“Demand for renewables grew by 3% in 2020 and is set to increase across all key sectors – power, heating, industry and transport – in 2021. The power sector leads the way, with its demand for renewables on course to expand by more than 8% in 2021.”
“Solar PV and wind are expected to contribute two-thirds of renewables’ growth.”
Food for thought when reading the latest message from the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, made at the opening of the recent 2-day Leaders’ Summit on Climate, who called on leaders everywhere to take urgent climate action: “Mother Nature is not waiting”, he said. “We need a green planet — but the world is on red alert.” Click here for more details.
The Summit is an important event on the road to COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021. It brought together decisionmakers and representatives of more than 40 countries covering more than 80% of global GDP, population and emissions. Focus was on the critical need for international collaboration and policy implementation to accelerate clean energy transitions. On May 18, the IEA will publish a wide-ranging roadmap for the global energy sector to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Good to continue monitoring these important developments.
We read with interest a recent article in the Dutch newspaper FD, in which prominent figures of the political party D66 advise the next Dutch government to seriously consider a role for nuclear energy from 2030. Our advice is to do this from a European perspective.
We would therefore like to recommend the politicians and readers of this website to also read the 2010 study by the European Climate Foundation (ECF). We have written about this before in previous blogs, but we would like to make reference to the Roadmap 2050 website again; https://www.roadmap2050.eu/. The various reports (Roadmap 2050 (click here), Power Perspective 2030 (click here)) also clearly describe the role of nuclear energy. We understand the concerns and questions about how to deal with radioactive waste, but we believe that responsible solutions are (will be) available.
The Commission’s proposal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 sets Europe on a responsible path to becoming climate neutral by 2050.
Based on a comprehensive impact assessment, the Commission has proposed to increase the EU’s ambition on reducing greenhouse gases and set this more ambitious path for the next 10 years. The assessment shows how all sectors of the economy and society can contribute, and sets out the policy actions required to achieve this goal.
Set a more ambitious and cost-effective path to achieving climate neutrality by 2050
Stimulate the creation of green jobs and continue the EU’s track record of cutting greenhouse gas emissions whilst growing its economy
Encourage international partners to increase their ambition to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5°C and avoid the most severe consequences of climate change
With this latest reduction, the ambitions of the EU significantly increase: a reduction of 40 percent had previously been agreed. Hence great news !
But there is a lot of work to do, to achieve this. However, this new plan creates various opportunities for us.
The WMO always reports very relevant information. In one of their latest bulletins, the following, amongst others, was stated:
“Carbon dioxide levels saw another growth spurt in 2019 and the annual global average breached the significant threshold of 410 parts per million, according to the WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin. The rise has continued in 2020. Since 1990, there has been a 45% increase in total radiative forcing – the warming effect on the climate – by long-lived greenhouse gases, with CO2 accounting for four fifths of this.”
“Carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for centuries and in the ocean for even longer. The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3-5 million years ago, when the temperature was 2-3°C warmer and sea level was 10-20 meters higher than now. But there weren’t 7.7 billion inhabitants,” said WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas.
“We breached the global threshold of 400 parts per million in 2015. And just four years later, we crossed 410 ppm. Such a rate of increase has never been seen in the history of our records. The lockdown-related fall in emissions is just a tiny blip on the long-term graph. We need a sustained flattening of the curve,” said Prof Taalas. “The COVID-19 pandemic is not a solution for climate change. However, it does provide us with a platform for more sustained and ambitious climate action to reduce emissions to net zero through a complete transformation of our industrial, energy and transport systems. The needed changes are economically affordable and technically possible and would affect our everyday life only marginally. It is to be welcomed that a growing number of countries and companies have committed themselves to carbon neutrality,” he said. “There is no time to lose.”
IEA has included in their Renewables 2020 report a very interesting dynamic data-dashboard, which will enable readers to examine historical data and investigate forecasts for various sectors and technologies.
According to the website of the Council: “The Climate Act came into force in the Netherlands on 1 September 2019. The aim of this act is to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, such as CO2. Excessive greenhouse gas in the atmosphere change the climate and have negative consequences for people and the natural environment. The task of the Advisory Division of the Council of State by virtue of the Climate Act is to review the climate policy implemented by the government.” For further information, please click here.
The Council of State (Advisory body on legislation and highest general administrative court) in the Netherlands
On October 30, the Council of State posted the following message on its website (‘translated’): “The climate goals which the government and parliament have set for themselves in the Climate Act are not being achieved. This is only possible if additional measures are already taken now to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This cannot be delayed. The Climate and Energy Outlook 2020 of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) shows that no substantial progress has been made compared to last year: the estimated reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, at 34%, is far behind the statutory target of 49% . The ultimate goal, a 95% reduction in emissions by 2050, also seems out of sight. A coherent and coordinated legislative programme is now required to achieve the goals. Furthermore, much is still needed to successfully implement the so-called regional energy strategies.”
The website further states: “In the Climate Act, which has been in force since 1 September 2019, the Advisory Division of the Council of State has been given a new task: assessing the government’s climate policy. It does this by testing the government’s Climate Plan every five years. This happened for the first time in October 2019. This year the Advisory Division discussed the annual Climate Policy Document for the first time. In order to be able to perform this new task properly, the Advisory Division uses an assessment framework.”.
Assessment framework Advisory Division of the Council of State
The Advisory Division assesses the Climate Plan on the basis of a fixed assessment framework. This consists of four parts:
Administrative and implementation aspects
The assessment framework is intended for the Climate Plan, but can also be the starting point for assessing the Climate Policy Document and the Progress Report, according to the Council of State on his website.
It is very good that we have this important institution to properly inform the Dutch population.
In previous blogs on our website it was already stated that the Netherlands is certainly not at the forefront in Europe and in the field of renewable energy (see previous blog by clicking the link here) the Netherlands is in last place. These kinds of reports feed the picture that is now also outlined by the Council of State. We have to act more and faster!
The Netherlands Climate and Energy Outlook 2020
The Netherlands Climate and Energy Outlook 2020, recently published by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, contains a number of interesting findings. Below we have listed several relevant points, translated from the Dutch version, and printed in Italics.
6 key observations shared in the Dutch Outlook 2020 are quite worrying, but not surprising, given previous blogs we’ve written:
Emission reduction pace must double to achieve the 2030 reduction target.
Achievement of the Urgenda target is uncertain, even with a large, second coronavirus wave.
Largest emission reductions in the power sector, fewer reductions among the end-use sectors.
Renewable heating and fuels lag behind and the energy savings rate decreases.
The Netherlands is increasingly dependent on imported natural gas.
The Netherlands’ greenhouse gas footprint is larger than its national greenhouse gas emissions.
The great thing about such an extensive report is to receive a lot of detailed information, but that can also be a disadvantage to miss the overarching picture (“not to see the wood for the trees”).
The Dutch Outlook 2020 provides the distribution of greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands (in megatons of CO2 equivalents) over the various sectors in the year 2019 (provisional data RIVM / Emission Registration):
Land use: 4.8
Built Environment: 23.3 (= 12,3% of total emissions)
Total = 188.7
The report shows future projections and hence the concerns expressed.
We would like to mention a few other relevant facts from the chapter ‘Built Environment’ of the Netherlands Climate and Energy Outlook 2020:
With a 70% share, Dutch households make the largest contribution to the total emissions from the built environment.
Greenhouse gas emissions from households and services are almost entirely determined by gas consumption for space heating, hot water preparation and cooking. In itself no news here, but it shows once again that insulation measures are very important.
Decrease in gas consumption due to reduction in household size, climate change and improved energy quality of homes. An average gas-fired home now (in 2020) consumes around 1,250 cubic meters of natural gas, compared to nearly 1,950 cubic meters in 2000. The Outlook estimates that natural gas consumption will decrease for an average gas-heated home in 2030 to just over 1,000 cubic meters of gas.
The consumption of electricity in homes has more or less stabilised since 2012. An average household used approximately 3,100 kilowatt hours per year in 2019. This could decrease further to ca. 2,600 kilowatt hours by 2030. This concerns the total supply from the grid plus own generation.
Regarding energy-saving measures, a distinction must be made between on the one hand so-called single measures such as floor, roof, facade or window insulation and replacement of heating systems and on the other hand renovations that often already have an integrated character.
The Outlook reports a few interesting figures: in 2018, 450,000 insulation measures were taken, 280,000 glass improvements were made, and 375,000 central heating boilers were replaced by an high efficiency central heating boiler or heat pump (source: RVO 2019).
Dutch TNO organisation has recently concluded that improved consumption and cost overview has no measurable saving effect compared to the old situation. Remarkable and it raises questions; how can we provide better insight that influence human behaviour positively.
We must understand developments globally to become stronger locally.
Two particular references I would like to mention in this context. The conclusions, which one can draw from these statistics and overviews, are straightforward and I leave this up to the individual reader.
IEA: Energy Technology RD&D Budgets 2020
I can really recommend the reader to look at IEA’s Energy Technology RD&D Budgets 2020.
These overviews include data on budgets in specific IEA member countries and the database shows RD&D budgets and various indicators. One ought to be cautious when interpreting the absolute figures. Nevertheless, it shows the money being spent on national level and in which areas.
With compliments to the IEA who states on their website: “The complete IEA Energy Technology RD&D Budget Database can be accessed for free through IEA Data Services by logging in as GUEST. Please see the documentation, manual, or questionnaire for additional information.”.
For more information on this wealth of information provided by IEA, please click here.
Share of renewable energy in EU member states (source: Eurostat Statistics)
The “Eurostat Statistics Explained” provide useful and clear insights.
For instance, the Renewable energy statistics give the following results:
Share of renewable energy nearly doubled between 2004 and 2018.
In 2018, renewable energy represented 18.9% of energy consumed in the EU, compared with 9.6% in 2004 – the 2020 target is 20%.
The share of energy from renewable sources used in transport activities in the EU reached 8.3% in 2018.
If one views how the Netherlands is doing in all of this, the following results:
Netherlands takes last (27th) place in the graph presented by Eurostat on “Share of energy from renewable sources in the EU Member States (2018, in % of gross final energy consumption)” – click here.
A more positive picture for the Netherlands (4th place measured from the top) is viewed when studying the graph “Share of energy from renewable sources in transport (2018, in % of gross final energy consumption)” – click here.
As a Dutchman, but very much being the European and mostly the global citizen for ecological issues, I obviously want my country to do much better in what I’ve extracted from the Eurostat data. Hence, some of the key questions should be; why are the other countries doing ‘better’, and what’s hindering us from performing as requested? What can we learn from the top performers on our national, regional and local levels? These questions stimulate the international cooperation in large implementation projects. Where organisations from many countries with good diversity are participating. And once finished, we share the lessons learnt and best practices.
For more information on the Eurostat statistics, please click here.