By October 20, 2022 Read More →

26 October —  Energy Transitions in an Uncertain World

Date: 26 October 2022
Time: 12:00pm ET
Location: Wean Hall 3701 & via Zoom
Speaker: Jennifer Morris
Topic: Energy Transitions in an Uncertain World

Abstract: There is growing focus on stringent climate policy targets, such as net zero emissions by 2050 and climate stabilization at 1.5C or 2C. With that focus comes a long, and growing, list of questions. Some of these include: What does net zero really mean? What’s the role of negative emissions technologies such as BECCS (bioenergy with carbon capture and storage)? What do energy transitions consistent with such targets look like?  How can we account for key uncertainties? How realistic are these targets anyway? This talk will cover work designed to address these questions, with a main focus on the implications of uncertainties related to policy design and socioeconomic development for energy transitions.

Studies of energy transitions typically focus on a single or small set of scenarios, often with idealized policy assumptions (e.g. with global carbon pricing and significant amounts of negative emissions). However, there are countless possible ways the future could unfold, with different implications for energy transitions. To help explore this uncertainty space, this work develops a probabilistic multi-sector coupled human-natural system model that captures both deep uncertainty about climate policy design (e.g. whether or not there is international emissions trading, coverage of land use emissions, and availability of carbon dioxide removal technologies) and parametric uncertainty about socioeconomic assumptions (e.g. productivity growth, population, technology costs, fossil resources). This approach can quantify uncertainty in the future energy mix and other regional and sectoral responses such as emissions, sectoral output, and consumption. Scenario discovery techniques can also be applied to the ensembles to explore relationships between outcomes and to identify individual scenarios of interest. Results suggest many possible energy mixes are consistent with a given global emissions pathway, and the policy design has significant implications for future energy. This work demonstrates the importance of considering uncertainty when planning for energy transitions and that planning for a single future is risky.


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