Quantifying lofty climate goals and a shift from hydrocarbons reveal impossible choices
Calgary, Alberta (October 26, 2022) — Enverus Intelligence Research (EIR), a subsidiary of Enverus, the most trusted energy-dedicated SaaS platform, has released its inaugural Primary Energy Outlook that establishes a climate change pathway that offers insights into energy transition investment opportunities and the potential to shape hydrocarbon demand out to 2050. The outlook arrives in anticipation of the International Energy Agency (IEA) World Energy Outlook 2022 (WEO).
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) defines primary energy as “energy in the form that it is first accounted for in a statistical energy balance before any transformation to secondary or tertiary forms of energy.” For example, coal can be converted to synthetic gas, which can be converted to electricity. In this example, coal is primary energy, synthetic gas is secondary energy, and electricity is tertiary energy.
As EIR experts highlight in their inaugural Primary Energy Outlook, the clear challenge is when carbon constraints are introduced and what the world is allowed to consume, both now and into the future. To achieve these lofty climate goals that some global leaders have put forth and satiate our collective growing need for energy, choices must be made, some of which may be deemed impossible. In its outlook, EIR has modeled to a 2.5 degrees Celsius warming scenario versus typical 1.5-2 degrees Celsius targets.
“Investments across the energy landscape have become more complex as policymakers incorporate climate goals and policy shifts into their decision frameworks. These changes are expected to transform the primary energy mix — where we source the energy that sustains the global economy — and the energy markets they supply,” said Ian Nieboer, report author and managing director at EIR.
“To better understand the dynamics and tradeoffs at play, we constrained the analysis along three dimensions: a binding carbon budget based on a 2.5 C warming pathway; primary energy demand taken as ‘known’ input based on our analysis; and absolute oil and coal contributions taken as ‘known’ inputs,” Nieboer said.
“By no means is this a prescriptive recommendation. This outlook is an objective evaluation of the data, quantity and quality of recoverable resources, and the intentional constraints that must be placed on global energy demand in order to achieve these goals. There will be no easy choices to make,” Nieboer said.
Key takeaways the inaugural Primary Energy Outlook:
- Global primary energy demand grows by 13% and 29% by 2030 and 2050, respectively, we expect. Our analysis yielded little deviation from the 60-year global upward trend in primary energy demand. Regional stories differ: North American and European primary energy consumption have plateaued while consumption rises alongside population growth in the rest of the world.
- Most climate goals focus on 1.5 C or 2 C warming pathways that require extreme shifts in the energy mix to achieve. In this analysis we model a less challenging 2.5 C pathway, but this scenario still requires an enormous amount of coordinated global capital, policy and natural resources which we view as highly improbable in today’s world.
- A model constrained by rising primary energy demand and a shrinking carbon budget to meet a 2.5 C global warming trajectory implies 14x growth in primary energy supply from carbon-neutral energy (CNE) technologies compared to 2019 levels, given our outlook for oil and coal over the period. This implies an unprecedented substitution of the energy mix with CNE achieving 60% of the primary energy share by 2050. We do not believe that CNE technologies exist today to achieve the growth necessary to maintain our 2.5 C constraint.
View the primary energy sources, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
View the World Energy Outlook 2022 landing page.
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About Enverus Intelligence Research
Enverus Intelligence Research, Inc. is a subsidiary of Enverus and publishes energy-sector research that focuses on the oil and natural gas industries and broader energy topics including publicly traded and privately held oil, gas, midstream and other energy industry companies, basin studies (including characteristics, activity, infrastructure, etc.), commodity pricing forecasts, global macroeconomics and geopolitical matters. Enverus Intelligence Research, Inc. is registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as an investment adviser.
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