Worley, an Australian engineering firm, in collaboration with Princeton University, has issued a detailed report that outlines the need and pathways for a rapid and transformative approach to energy infrastructure in order to achieve decarbonization in line with the UN Paris Agreement.
“If we develop energy infrastructure the way we always have, we won’t get to net zero by 2050,” say the authors of the report. “We might not even get halfway. To reach our target we need to dramatically accelerate the pace and scale of how we work. Everyone involved in creating infrastructure needs to rethink their approach – from governments and investors, to construction companies and engineers. To decarbonize the world and meet the mid-century net-zero challenge we need to reinvent the way we deliver energy infrastructure.”
Using data, graphs and charts, the report illustrates a range of pathways to reach net zero, including 6 pillars of decarbonization: end-use energy efficiency and electrification, clean electricity (such as wind and solar), bioenergy and other zero-carbon fuels and feedstocks, carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS), reduced non-CO2 emissions, and enhanced land sinks. All pathways show fossil fuels tapering off by 70% to 100%, with coal being phased out by 2030.
Additionally, the report proposes 5 key shifts in thinking about how to develop, design and construct infrastructure going forward:
- Broadening value: shift from economic to social-economic-environmental;
- Enabling options: Address uncertainty through development of all technologies;
- Standardization: Replicate designs and build in parallel;
- Create partnerships: Governments set the objectives and partnerships form;
- The digital accelerant: Digital platforms create the trust to move forward.
The analysis and recommendations come on the heels of the latest UN progress report on climate change, which issued dire warnings regarding the future of Earth, and the need for immediate and drastic reductions in GHG emissions.
The Princeton and Worley analysis “frames the necessary actions for the U.S. to reach net zero, and provides a starting point for how the rest of the world can do so too,” said Lynn Loo, a Princeton engineering professor and Andlinger Center director. “It highlights the role of companies like Worley in executing the projects needed to navigate the energy transition.”
Worley CEO Chris Ashton said, “The urgent imperative is for governments and industry to shift focus to the practical challenge of delivering at a previously unimagined pace and scale of infrastructure development and engineered solutions.”
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