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

National climate plans could see fossil fuel demand peak by 2025

Demand for fossil fuels will peak by 2025 if all national net-zero pledges are implemented in full and on time, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has forecast.

15th October 2021

Read more

The Green Homes Grant is set to deliver only a fraction of the jobs and improvements intended, leading to calls for more involvement from local authorities in future schemes.

23rd September 2021

Read more

Half of the world's 40 largest listed oil and gas companies will have to slash their production by at least 50% by the 2030s to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement, new analysis has found.

9th September 2021

Read more

None of England’s water and sewerage companies achieved all environmental expectations for the period 2015 to 2020, the Environment Agency has revealed. These targets included the reduction of total pollution incidents by at least one-third compared with 2012, and for incident self-reporting to be at least 75%.

30th July 2021

Read more

The UK’s pipeline for renewable energy projects could mitigate 90% of job losses caused by COVID-19 and help deliver the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda. That is according to a recent report from consultancy EY-Parthenon, which outlines how the UK’s £108bn “visible pipeline” of investible renewable energy projects could create 625,000 jobs.

30th July 2021

Read more

Billions of people worldwide have been unable to access safe drinking water and sanitation in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a progress report from the World Health Organisation focusing on the UN’s sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6) – to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030”.

30th July 2021

Read more

The oil and gas industry is set to burn through its allocated carbon budget 13 years early unless decisive action is taken immediately, new analysis has found.

22nd July 2021

Read more

The UK will no longer use unabated coal to generate electricity from October 2024, one year earlier than originally planned, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has announced.

2nd July 2021

Read more

The UK government is not on track to deliver on its promise to improve the environment within a generation and is failing to stem the tide of biodiversity loss, a damning new report from MPs has revealed.

1st July 2021

Read more

Media enquires

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

Find an expert