This year’s bp Energy Outlook explores the key trends and uncertainties surrounding the energy transition out to 2050. The three main scenarios considered in the Outlook – Net Zero, Accelerated, and New Momentum – have been updated to take account of two major developments over the past year: the Russia-Ukraine war and the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act in the US.
The Outlook’s three main scenarios are designed to explore the range of possible outcomes for the global energy system over the next 30 years. Understanding this range of uncertainty helps bp to shape a strategy which is resilient to the different speeds and ways in which the energy system may transition.
bp’s chief economist, Spencer Dale, said: 'Global energy polices and discussions in recent years have been focused on the importance of decarbonising the energy system and the transition to net zero. The events of the past year have served as a reminder to us all that the transition also needs to take account of the security and affordability of energy. Any successful and enduring energy transition needs to address all three elements of the so-called energy trilemma: secure, affordable and lower carbon.'
'The events of the past year have highlighted the complexity and interconnectedness of the global energy system. The increased focus on energy security as a result of the Russia-Ukraine war has the potential to accelerate the energy transition as countries seek to increase access to domestically produced energy, much of which is likely to come from renewables and other non-fossil fuels. But the events also show how relatively small disruptions to energy supplies can lead to severe economic and social costs, highlighting the importance that the transition away from hydrocarbons is orderly, such that the demand for hydrocarbons falls in line with available supplies.'
Three scenarios:Accelerated and Net Zero explore how different elements of the energy system might change in pathways that achieve substantial reductions in carbon emissions by 2050 ? by around 75% in Accelerated and over 95% in Net Zero. Both scenarios assume a significant tightening in climate policies globally. Net Zero also includes a shift in societal behaviour and preferences to further support gains in energy efficiency and the adoption of low-carbon energy.
New Momentum is designed to reflect the current broad trajectory of the world’s energy system. In doing so, it places weight on the marked increase in government ambitions and pledges for decarbonisation that have been seen in recent years. In this scenario, global carbon emissions peak in the 2020s and by around 2050 are around 30% below 2019 levels.
Key themes from the Outlook:
- The carbon budget is running out. Despite the marked increase in government ambitions, CO2 emissions have increased in every year since the Paris COP in 2015 (bar 2020). The longer the delay in taking decisive action to reduce GHG emissions on a sustained basis, the greater are the likely resulting economic and social costs.
- Government support for the energy transition has increased further in a number of countries, including the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act in the US. But the scale of the decarbonisation challenge suggests greater support is required, including policies to facilitate quicker permitting and approval of low-carbon energy and infrastructure.
- The disruption to global energy supplies and associated energy shortages caused by the Russia-Ukraine war increase the importance attached to addressing all three elements of the energy trilemma: secure, affordable, and lower carbon.
- The war has long lasting effects on the global energy system. The heightened focus on energy security increases demand for domestically produced renewables and other non-fossil fuels helping to accelerate the energy transition.
- The structure of energy demand changes in all three scenarios, with the importance of fossil fuels declining, replaced by a growing share for renewable energy and by increasing electrification. The transition to a low-carbon world requires a range of other energy sources and technologies, including low-carbon hydrogen, modern bioenergy, and carbon capture use and storage.
- Oil demand declines over the outlook, driven by falling use in road transport as the efficiency of the vehicle fleet improves and the electrification of road vehicles accelerates. Even so, oil continues to play a major role in the global energy system for the next 15-20 years across all three scenarios.
- The prospects for natural gas depend on the speed of the energy transition, with increasing demand in emerging economies as they grow and industrialise offset by the transition to lower-carbon energy sources led by the developed world.
- The recent energy shortages and higher prices highlight the importance of the transition away from hydrocarbons being orderly, such that the demand for hydrocarbons falls in line with available supplies. Natural declines in existing production sources means there needs to be continuing upstream investment in oil and natural gas over the next 30 years, including in Net Zero.
- The global power system decarbonises, led by the increasing dominance of wind and solar power. Wind and solar account for all or most of the growth in power generation, aided by continuing cost competitiveness and an increasing ability to integrate high concentrations of these variable power sources into power systems. The growth in wind and solar requires a significant acceleration in the financing and building of new capacity.
- The use of modern biofuels - modern solid biomass, biofuels and biomethane - grows rapidly, helping to decarbonise hard-to-abate sectors and processes.
- Low-carbon hydrogen plays a critical role in decarbonising the energy system, especially in hard-to-abate processes and activities in industry and transport. Low-carbon hydrogen is dominated by green and blue hydrogen, with green hydrogen growing in importance over time. Hydrogen trade is a mix of regional pipelines transporting pure hydrogen and global seaborne trade in hydrogen derivatives.
- Carbon capture use and storage plays a central role in enabling rapid decarbonisation trajectories: capturing industrial process emissions, acting as a source of carbon dioxide removal, and abating emissions from the use of fossil fuels.
- A range of techniques for carbon dioxide removal – including bioenergy combined with carbon capture and storage, natural climate solutions, and direct air carbon capture with storage – are needed for the world to achieve a deep and rapid decarbonisation.
The full 2023 Energy Outlook can be seen at: bp.com/energyoutlook
The Outlook will be launched by Spencer Dale at 1400 UK on Monday 30 January. Details of the webcast, including registration and how to view can be seen here.