The analysis suggests that achieving a zero-carbon global energy system by 2050 is achievable but will require significant investment in both existing renewables and new clean energy technologies such as fusion.
“While the rapid and maximum deployment of renewables is key to achieving the 2050 target, in certain parts of the world – including the UK – wind and solar power alone will not be able to meet projected energy demand, opening up a market for clean baseload power to complement renewables,” the analysis said.
Global power demand is expected to double by 2040 and could increase fivefold by 2060 when new technologies enable the electrification of a wider range of applications.
Even in the most optimistic scenario the analysis concludes that 19,900 TWh per year could be generated from wind and solar globally by 2040. This is an eight-fold increase on today but is still less than half of the projected requirement.
The analysis noted that 10 of the UK’s existing nuclear power plants with an installed capacity of 6 GW are due to be decommissioned in the 2030s. The net effect will be a significant gap in zero-carbon power.