--- Implications of technology options ---
Many different pathways are possible for achieving a given mitigation target. The policy scenarios investigated in
this Outlook model different technology pa...
thways to reduce emissions. In the Baseline scenario the power sector
globally accounts for more than 40% of CO2 emissions in 2050, and therefore plays a key role in the decarbonisation
of the economy. To explore the role of energy technologies under the 450 Accelerated Action scenario, three
alternative simulations were conducted using the ENV-Linkages model (for more details see Annex 3.A1). These
scenarios all aim at achieving the same 450 ppm emission pathway, with the same timing of emission reductions but
assume different patterns of technological developments to achieve it:
(i) Low efficiency and renewables: compared to the default assumptions in the 450 Accelerated Action
scenario assumes less energy-efficiency improvement in energy use through less improvement of
energy inputs in production, and slower increases in production of renewables.
(ii) Progressive nuclear phase-out: assumes that nuclear capacity currently under construction and planned
until 2020 will be built and connected to the grid. However, after 2020, no new nuclear unit will be built
so that the world total capacity by 2050 will be reduced because of the natural retirement of existing
(iii) No CCS: assumes no greater use of CCS technologies beyond the levels projected in the Baseline.
In the short run – to 2020 – altering the set of mitigation technologies results in only limited changes in the
electricity generation mix and level because the carbon penalty is too low to overcome the inertia in the energy system.
In all simulations the bulk of emission reduction over this timeframe is therefore achieved by decreasing emissions of
methane, nitrous oxide and F gases, although there is also some reduction in energy consumption induced by the
However, the role of these energy technologies in the longer run – to 2050 – is more pronounced as low-carbon
technologies are projected to have taken over in all regions of the world (Figure 3.21). Panel A illustrates GDP impacts
and carbon prices for each scenario, while Panel B shows the electricity generation mix and the overall production
level for each of the three macro-regions. What becomes clear from Panel A is that having sufficient flexibility in the
energy system will protect regions against large, sudden, unexpected increases in cost, or reduced availability of a
specific technology at the scale originally anticipated.*
By 2050, when all technologies are assumed to be available, renewable electricity is assumed to supply about
half of the needs in OECD and BRIICS, which will also rely on capital-intensive nuclear and fossil fuel plants with CCS.
The results reveal strong complementarities between nuclear and fossil fuels (with or without CCS) in most regions.
Phasing out nuclear facilities in the BRIICS countries, where most new capacity is expected to be built in the coming
decades, causes a substantial reduction in electricity generation. Power plants with CCS become competitive around
2030 and increasingly so by the end of the time horizon in both OECD and BRIICS. In the absence of CCS power
plants by 2050, switching to more expensive technologies increases electricity prices and alters consumption patterns.
Fossil fuel power plants without CCS are projected to decline to about 10% of total power supply worldwide, due to the
high carbon price, unless nuclear is phased out, in which case such a steep decline is not feasible.
The RoW region is projected to follow a different mitigation strategy, predominantly relying on increasing
renewable energy sources. This region is therefore very sensitive to the assumptions about energy efficiency and
productivity of renewable energy technologies, but less affected by the exclusion of nuclear and CCS. Given this
projected strategy, substituting away from renewable energy sources is more difficult and costly. In turn, corresponding
income losses in the RoW region are more than doubled in the low efficiency and renewables scenario compared to
the 450 Accelerated Action scenario.
Note: *The 2011 incident at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan and the following reconsideration of nuclear energy use in other
countries was a harsh reminder that possible large-scale disruptions to the energy system cannot be ignored.
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