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Energies 2017, 10(1), 116; doi:10.3390/en10010116

Exploring the Feasibility of Low-Carbon Scenarios Using Historical Energy Transitions Analysis

Grantham Institute, Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus, London SW7 2AZ, UK
Met Office Hadley Centre, FitzRoy Road, Exeter, Devon EX1 3PB, UK
Department of Chemical Engineering, Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus, London SW7 2AZ, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: John Barrett
Received: 31 October 2016 / Revised: 13 December 2016 / Accepted: 5 January 2017 / Published: 18 January 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Low Carbon Economy)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [5493 KB, uploaded 18 January 2017]   |  


The scenarios generated by energy systems models provide a picture of the range of possible pathways to a low-carbon future. However, in order to be truly useful, these scenarios should not only be possible but also plausible. In this paper, we have used lessons from historical energy transitions to create a set of diagnostic tests to assess the feasibility of an example 2 °C scenario (generated using the least cost optimization model, TIAM-Grantham). The key assessment criteria included the rate of deployment of low carbon technologies and the rate of transition between primary energy resources. The rates of deployment of key low-carbon technologies were found to exceed the maximum historically observed rate of deployment of 20% per annum. When constraints were added to limit the scenario to within historically observed rates of change, the model no longer solved for 2 °C. Under these constraints, the lowest median 2100 temperature change for which a solution was found was about 2.1 °C and at more than double the cumulative cost of the unconstrained scenario. The analysis in this paper highlights the considerable challenge of meeting 2 °C, requiring rates of energy supply technology deployment and rates of declines in fossil fuels which are unprecedented. View Full-Text
Keywords: energy transition; energy systems modelling; low-carbon; decarbonisation energy transition; energy systems modelling; low-carbon; decarbonisation

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Napp, T.; Bernie, D.; Thomas, R.; Lowe, J.; Hawkes, A.; Gambhir, A. Exploring the Feasibility of Low-Carbon Scenarios Using Historical Energy Transitions Analysis. Energies 2017, 10, 116.

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