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Overreliance on gas delays G7 transition to net-zero electricity – POLITICO

Three years ago, the G7, a group of major industrialized countries including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, committed to decarbonizing their electricity systems by 2035. It was a historic and hopeful moment, in which the group demonstrated global leadership and took a first step towards what must become an OECD-wide commitment, as recommended by the International Energy Agency in its 2050 net-zero emissions scenario, putting the world on a path to sustaining the global economy. warming below 1.5 degrees.

As the 2024 G7 summit approaches, the ability of G7 countries to meet their commitments to decarbonize electricity systems, particularly to address the ongoing crisis in fossil fuel prices and the cost of living, but also to maintain their global leadership in energy transition. , is subject to careful scrutiny. So far, G7 countries’ actual progress toward this key goal is a mixed picture of good, bad and ugly, a new analysis shows.

via G7 Power Systems Dashboard, May 2024, E3G

Most G7 countries are taking steps towards policy and regulatory adjustments that will facilitate a managed transition.

Network modernization and deployment, for example, is finally starting to receive the attention it deserves. Some countries, such as the United States, are also beginning to tackle the issue of long-term energy storage, crucial for an energy sector based on renewable energy.

Coal is on its way out in every G7 country except Japan, which is lagging behind its peers. This is where the challenges begin, as things like Japan’s unhealthy relationship with coal risk undermining the entire group’s credibility as a global leader in the energy transition.

Despite these efforts, all G7 countries are delaying crucial decisions to implement transition pathways leading to a resilient, affordable and secure, fossil-free electricity system in which renewable energy – primarily wind and solar – play the dominant role. Monitoring by campaign groups shows that other European countries are already moving firmly in this direction.

The progress made so far is neither uniform nor sufficient.

Other gaps vary by country, but overall more action is needed on energy efficiency, non-thermal flexibility solutions and restructuring electricity markets to facilitate greater use renewable electricity and storage. The EU’s recently adopted electricity market reform provides a solid framework for changes in this direction, at least for EU-based G7 countries, but it remains to be seen how the new EU rules EU will be implemented at national level.

Overall: Progress made so far is neither uniform nor sufficient. On the one hand, the translation of the G7-wide objective into a legal national commitment is lacking in most G7 countries, in Europe and beyond. In addition, the G7 countries’ chances of achieving their 2035 target are threatened, as well as their global image as leaders in energy transition, due to the absence of national roadmaps for decarbonization of the energy sector. electricity, clear, timely and economically rational. Whether based 100% or predominantly on renewable energy by 2035, today’s electricity systems will need to undergo unprecedented structural change to achieve this.

For this change to take off, a clear vision on how to decarbonize the “last mile” while ensuring a clean, safe, affordable and reliable electricity supply is crucial. Unfortunately, the G7’s current long-term vision focuses on only one thing: gas-fired backup production. While attempts arise to address the development of long-term storage, networks, flexibility and other balancing solutions, most G7 countries are primarily focused on planning a massive increase in capacity gas.

Whether based 100% or predominantly on renewable energy by 2035, today’s electricity systems will need to undergo unprecedented structural change to achieve this.

All G7 countries except France have new gas-fired power plants being planned or built, with the largest growth shares in three European countries: Italy plans to increase its gas electric fleet by 12%, the United Kingdom by 23.5% and Germany by 28%. percent. The United States, which consumes a quarter of global gas demand for electricity, has the largest project pipeline in absolute terms – 37.8 GW, the fourth largest gas pipeline in the world.

This development of gas infrastructure contradicts the trend in the real economy: in all G7 European countries, gas demand has been declining at least since the 2021-2022 energy crisis, due in particular to the decarbonization of the electricity sector. . Japan’s gas demand peaked in 2007 and Canada’s in 1996 (see IEA gas consumption data). Even the G7 governments’ own energy demand projections show a further decline in gas demand by 2030, from a fifth to a third of current levels in all European G7 countries and Japan, and by at least 6 to 10% in Canada and the United States.

Maria Pastukhova | Program Manager – Global Energy Transition, E3G

Most G7 countries say this new gas-fired power fleet will be used at a much lower capacity factor as a backup generation source to balance variable renewables. Some, for example Germany, are encouraging the development of new gas-fired power capacity under the label “hydrogen readiness”, assuming that these facilities will run on low-carbon hydrogen from 2035. D Others, for example Japan or the United States, are betting on reducing gas-fired electricity production through long-term carbon capture and storage technologies.

Maintaining gas-fired electricity infrastructure in a decentralized and increasingly renewable energy-based electricity system using technology that may or may not work over time is a very risky gamble to take given the time remaining.

G7 countries have just a decade left to follow through on their commitment to achieving net-zero emissions electricity systems. We have readily available solutions to make much of the progress needed: grids, renewables, batteries and other short- and medium-duration storage, as well as efficiency improvements. These technologies need to be significantly expanded now, along with additional solutions we will need by 2035, such as long-duration energy storage, digitalization, and training skilled workers to build and operate these new power systems .

Although available and sustainable, these solutions must be deployed now to be operational in time for 2035. Looking ahead, the G7 cannot afford to waste any more time focusing on gas to power, which is anyway endangered and will not. bring about the necessary structural transformation of the electricity system.


Sara Adm

Aimant les mots, Sara Smith a commencé à écrire dès son plus jeune âge. En tant qu'éditeur en chef de son journal scolaire, il met en valeur ses compétences en racontant des récits impactants. Smith a ensuite étudié le journalisme à l'université Columbia, où il est diplômé en tête de sa classe. Après avoir étudié au New York Times, Sara décroche un poste de journaliste de nouvelles. Depuis dix ans, il a couvert des événements majeurs tels que les élections présidentielles et les catastrophes naturelles. Il a été acclamé pour sa capacité à créer des récits captivants qui capturent l'expérience humaine.
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