The World Energy Council releases its Global Energy Scenarios Comparison Review

11th April 2019

News ArticleEventsInnovation

In anticipation of the 24th World Energy Congress, which will convene over 6,000 energy leaders in Abu Dhabi in September 2019, the World Energy Council has released its Global Energy Scenarios Comparison Review Insights Brief this week during The Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue event.

The Council has undertaken a comparison of the assumptions, narratives, and numbers found in a peer group of global energy scenarios of interest to Council members. The comparative scenarios review has also been analysed in relation to the Council’s ongoing horizon- scanning processes, including its annual Issues Monitor as well as interviews and dialogues with international energy leaders amassed throughout 2018.

As part of its core mission, the World Energy Council employs a multi-stakeholder engagement process to develop actionable, technology and resource-neutral scenarios. World Energy Scenarios are among the five tools in the Council’s new Energy Transition Toolkit. These scenarios help users to anticipate, better prepare for, and collaborate in delivering a successful energy transition.

The Council’s comparative review has validated the relevance and plausibility of its existing archetypal framework and the benefits of continuing to work with the plausibility-based, narrative-led methodology. It also helped identify a series of insights, including:
  • All scenarios are grappling with the complexity of energy systems that are diverse, dynamic, and adaptive, with supply increasingly driven by changes in demand and developments beyond the energy sector.
  • The broader landscape of innovation, with its uneven pace and disruptive potential, is seen as a critical uncertainty. The wider implications of the energy-information nexus are emerging, including energy innovations coming from adjacent sectors, the role of finance, new consumer logic and shifting societal needs.
  • All global energy scenarios highlight the role of more internationally coordinated action, aligned on both local and global scales, and supported by agile regulatory frameworks that create pathways to award a successful transition.
  • The economics of the energy transition used in long-term energy scenarios modelling is out of touch with the realities of non-linear energy systems transition. Whilst decarbonisation pivots on the price of carbon, the costs of whole energy systems transition include wider sustainability challenges (e.g., global water stress and climate change impacts and adaptation), social benefits (e.g. job losses), and increased system resiliency.
  • A wide range of assumptions about demand within the different types of global energy futures, includes the slowdown in global population growth, rapid urbanisation in new economies, female education, rapid efficiency gains enabled by electrification of transport and cooking, and recycling in industry
A successful global energy transition involves more than accelerating decarbonisation. The Council is refocusing its long-term energy scenarios storylines to dig deeper into disruptive innovations including technological, economic, social, and regulatory, that are already emerging within and beyond the energy system, coming from beyond, not just within, the energy system and utilities. A new set of global scenario storylines are in development for launch at the 24th Abu Dhabi World Energy Congress.

The Council also recognises that finding ways to better use global scenarios is far from straightforward. This often involves facilitating a successful energy transition in response to global and national visions, which are not just about energy. We support our members to make use of our World Energy Scenarios as a platform for leadership dialogue to forge new common ground and catalyse and sustain collaborative innovation.
You can download the full version of the Global Energy Scenarios Comparison Review here.

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