COVID-19 a ‘lost opportunity’ for energy transition

23rd September 2021

Web p5 COVID 19 a lost opportunity for energy transition shutterstock 1582549144

Related Topics



COVID-19 recovery packages have largely focused on protecting, rather than transforming, existing industries, and have been a “lost opportunity” for speeding up the global energy transition.

That is according to analysis by energy consultancy DNV, which also found that the world will fall “a long way short” of hitting net-zero emissions by 2050 if it relies on green electricity alone.

Although electrification is set to double in size within a generation, and renewables are already the most cost-competitive source of new power, the company said that the energy transition is still “definitely not fast enough”.

It forecasts global emissions to fall by only 9% by 2030, with the 1.5°C carbon budget agreed by global economies emptied by then, and the planet likely to reach global warming of 2.3°C by the end of the century.

Despite the grim outlook, the analysis suggests that the goals of the Paris Agreement can still be delivered, with energy efficiency remaining the biggest opportunity for tackling climate change.

DNV CEO Remi Eriksen said that, although COVID-19 has been a lost opportunity, “it is not the last we have for transitioning faster to a deeply decarbonised energy system. However, I am deeply concerned about what it will take for governments to apply the resolution and urgency they have shown in the face of the pandemic to our climate. We must now see the same sense of urgency to avoid a climate catastrophe.”

The findings show that greater efficiency could see energy demand level off even as the global population and economy grow. Hydrogen is seen as the energy carrier with the highest potential to tackle hard-to-abate emissions, but this is forecast to scale only from the mid-2030s, and to supply just 5% of the energy mix by 2050.

Oil demand looks set to halve, with coal use reduced to a third by mid-century, although fossil fuels are still expected to still constitute 50% of the global energy mix.

The analysis also suggests that, while 69% of grid-connected power will be generated by wind and solar in 2050, and indirect electrification and biofuels remain critical, none of these sources are scaling rapidly enough. DNV said that this makes it all the more important to scale hydrogen, as well as carbon capture and storage.

“Extraordinary action will be needed to bring the hydrogen economy into full force earlier – but these are extraordinary times,” Eriksen said. “The window to avoid catastrophic climate change is closing soon, and the costs of not doing so unimaginable.”

Read the full analysis at

Image credit | Shutterstock

Transform articles

UK launches 'biggest electricity market reform in a generation'

The UK government has launched the biggest review into the country's electricity market design for decades, which it hopes will radically enhance energy security and cut costs for consumers.

21st July 2022

Read more

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has added urgency to the net-zero transition as countries renew their focus on energy security and the geopolitical landscape changes forever. Chris Seekings reports

21st July 2022

Read more

Hello, and welcome to another edition of Transform magazine.

20th July 2022

Read more

The UK will have to train up to 6,000 new heat pump engineers annually over the next six years if it is to meet its environmental targets, research suggests.

7th July 2022

Read more

Europe can achieve a clean, reliable and expanded power system by 2035 with a similar overall cost to current plans for a smaller and more polluting supply, new modelling has found.

22nd June 2022

Read more

It is becoming very difficult to insure new coal power projects outside of China, with utilities now turning to inexperienced companies for coverage, a new report claims.

9th June 2022

Read more

UK chancellor Rishi Sunak has today confirmed a temporary windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas firms to help with the cost-of-living crisis.

26th May 2022

Read more

Momentum is gathering behind the switch to electric vehicles, but there are concerning disparities in chargepoint coverage. Huw Morris reports

26th May 2022

Read more

Two pioneering energy-saving projects in Sweden hold important lessons for the smart transition, says Oliver Ingwall-King

26th May 2022

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert