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Energy technologies mapped out

Much bolder policy decisions are needed if technology is to help us reach our climate goals, says the IEA

Strong political support and the right market conditions will be needed to drive technological development and improve global access to electricity, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says.

In its latest Energy Technology Perspectives (ETP) 2017 report, which outlines how technology and other trends will reshape the global energy sector in the next four decades, it says we need to be investing in stronger and smarter infrastructure. This includes transmission capacity, storage capacity and demand-side management technologies to build efficient, low-carbon, integrated, flexible and robust energy systems.

However, existing government policies are not supportive enough to achieve long-term global climate goals, the IEA analysis concludes.

Out of the 26 clean energy technologies-which in addition to power generating technologies also includes transport biofuels, building construction and lighting-only four were on track to meet climate objectives. These are solar PV, onshore wind, energy storage and electric vehicles.

Where policies have provided clear signals, progress has been substantial according to the ETP's Tracking Clean Energy Progress report. However, many technology areas suffer from inadequate policy support.

"As costs decline, we will need a sustained focus on all energy technologies to reach long-term climate targets," said IEA executive director Dr Fatih Birol. "Some are progressing, but too few are on track, and this puts pressure on others."

ETP 2017 presents three pathways for energy sector development to 2060: the Reference Technology Scenario (RTS); the 2°C Scenario (2DS) and the Beyond 2°C Scenario (B2DS).

The RTS reflects the world's current ambitions. While it represents a significant shift from a historical "business as usual" approach, the IEA says it does not achieve the global climate mitigation objectives.

More ambitious decarbonisation requires more effort and political commitment.

This article appears in the latest issue of World Energy Focus, the magazine of the World Energy Council, with content produced by Petroleum Economist. For more information and to register, visit the site worldenergyfocus.org.

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