[137] Getting a handle on transport emissions

This amount of oil would be replaced by ~800 TWh of electricity, which could be generated by a ~450 GW park of renewables (wind and solar). The investment required for this renewable capacity would be in the range of €500 billion, which can be paid back in about 7 years by the savings made in imports.

Going electric not only diverts money from imports to indigenous industry, but it generates net savings after a few years of operation.

[126] Keep energy supply chains short

To illustrate this principle, let’s compare two routes to use renewable power in mobility. Direct use of electricity in a battery electric vehicle shows an overall efficiency of about 70% (grid losses, electric motor and power electronic losses, battery use, mechanical losses). Indirect use through syn-fuel and an internal combustion engine shows an overall efficiency of 13%, more than 5 times lower (power to liquid efficiency, transport, internal combustion engine losses, mechanical losses).

[84] Trade-off or synergy?

A recent (August 2017) working paper by IRENA considers how renewables (RE) and energy efficiency (EE) can work together to contribute to global energy decarbonisation by 2050. Three key conclusions are:

  • A combined approach of RE/EE offers the most timely and feasible route to decarbonising the global energy system.
  • The cost-competitiveness of technologies varies by country, but deployment of RE/EE technologies together results in overall savings to the energy system across all countries.
  • All countries have significant untapped and economically attractive RE/EE deployment potential, beyond what is foreseen in national plans.

[35] Can electricity be a fuel?

Biofuels can reduce greenhouse gas emissions to varying degrees, when compared to fossil fuels. The reduction potential varies between 10% and 90%, depending on the fuel used and how it is managed (in some extreme cases, due to land use change, the carbon balance can be even worse than the fossil alternative).

A new development since 2012 is the rapid electrification of transport, for which there is both political momentum and market developments. In carbon-intensive electricity systems, some biofuels can perform well, but on average, electricity works better than most fuel types, and will do so increasingly as the electricity system decarbonises.

[34] The potential of hydropower

The US was the first to build large-scale hydropower stations; and now these installations are ageing. Upgrading them could boost the hydropower output at a cost of less than 4 cents /kWh without the environmental disruption of new dam construction. This also applies in Europe and for other types of renewable energy: technology keeps on developing. Upgrading and repowering existing sites is rapidly becoming an interesting market for hydropower. The same trend can be observed for wind energy plants.