ROME (Reuters) - Thirst for energy will double in the first half of the century, but increased biofuel production and carbon storage could help the world stabilize greenhouse gas levels by the 2020s, oil giant Shell said on Wednesday.
In a study of energy trends to 2050, Royal Dutch Shell illustrated two scenarios of how the world may deal with an energy supply squeeze -- one where governments and industry plan for change and another where they react late, leading to higher demand and greenhouse gas emissions.
“We have a taken a very clear position that we are in favor of the ‘blueprints’ (scenario with better planning) and we are working actively to promote that,” said Shell’s Chief Economist Steven Fries, presenting the report in Rome.
In its less controlled scenario, called ‘scramble’, where countries react late to an energy supply squeeze, the report predicts a “dash for coal” in the coming decade, along with a sharp increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
In its ‘blueprints’ scenario, which includes global greenhouse gas reduction policies after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, a focus on energy efficiency and carbon sequestration means emission peak after 2020 and begin to fall.
The scramble scenario sees global energy demand more than doubling from 417 exajoules in 2000 to 880 in 2050. The blueprints scenario sees 13 percent lower energy demand in 2050 of 769 exajoules.
Fries said the blueprints scenario would allow CO2 levels to stabilize at 500-550 parts per million, limiting global warming to a 2 degree Celsius rise.
But that would require a massive takeup of carbon sequestration technology -- capturing the CO2 produced when burning fossil fuels and storing it, for example by pumping it underground.
The blueprints scenario envisages 90 percent of fossil fuel power plants in the developed world fitted with carbon capture and storage (CSS) ability and 50 percent of those in developing countries.
Some environmentalists oppose CCS, which has yet to be tested on a commercial scale, saying it may not be reliable and could divert investment from truly green sources of power.
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.