Expect the Unexpected: The Disruptive Power of Low-carbon Technology is a new report by the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London and the Carbon Tracker Initiative. The report models energy demand by combining up-to-date solar PV and electric vehicle cost projections with climate policies based on the UNFCC Nationally Determined Contributions statements. The results are contrasted with the current “Business as Usual” scenarios of the major fossil fuel companies, and demonstrate how Big Oil underestimates the impact of solar and EV technologies. Expect the Unexpected forecasts peak oil and gas by 2020, with electric vehicles accounting for over two-thirds of the road transport market by 2050, and states that Solar PV “could supply 23% of global power generation in 2040 and 29% by 2050, entirely phasing out coal and leaving natural gas with just a 1% market share.”
The report and addresses the question, “What contribution can accelerated solar PV and EV penetration make to achieving a 2°C target?” It provides various scenarios, but concludes that decarbonisation of heavy industry (specifically iron and steel, cement, chemcials) will also be required and essential. On this front, the report states that Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is unlikely to be financially viable in power generation, but “ In non-power sectors such as heavy industry, however, CCS is likely to have a much more important role because there are currently few viable low-carbon alternatives for achieving deep decarbonisation. Furthermore, if CO2 can be utilised in other industrial processes, this added value will serve to improve the viability of CCS.”
One such low-carbon alternative for cement production – albeit one which is still in development – is reported in a recent article by University of Victoria’s Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions . Based on the premise that most of the CO2 produced in cement manufacture is not in the kiln-heating process, but rather by the chemical reaction of turning limestone into quicklime, researchers at McGill University in Montreal have developed a building product called Carbicrete, which replaces Portland cement with steel slag (a waste product) as its main binding agent. Read details in “Solving the Thorny problem of Cement Emissions” (Feb. 1).
Use this link to view The Expect the Unexpected main report, a technical report, and an interactive dashboard allowing readers to manipulate elements of climate policy, technology price, and energy demand are available here.