bp’s ambition is to be a net zero company by 2050 or sooner and help the world get to net zero. An energy system with net-zero CO2 emissions will be starkly different from the current one.
Today, fossil fuels represent 85% of total primary energy consumption. In contrast, in bp’s Energy Outlook Net Zero scenario, renewables, including hydropower, have a share of around 70%, while fossil fuels account for just 20%. Such a transition in 30 years is a huge challenge, but is achievable if governments, companies and wider society all pull together in the same direction.
A net-zero system is about more than shifting the energy mix. It also requires a rethink of how companies and households use energy. Over the past 50 years, higher global economic activity has been accompanied by a higher consumption of energy, but to help the world achieve net zero while it continues to prosper this relationship needs to be de-coupled. The world needs to find ways to prosper while using energy more efficiently.
Primary energy consumption
Carbon-free energy sources dominate bp’s Energy Outlook Net Zero scenario:
Another way to explore the implications of a net-zero energy system is focusing on final energy consumption. That is, the energy that households and firms use in their daily activities.
Most people do not directly consume solar energy or wind energy. Instead, they consume electricity and hydrogen generated with these primary sources of energy.
As the chart shows, electricity or hydrogen account for three-quarters of total final energy used in Net Zero by 2050, but, in 2018, they accounted for less than a quarter of final consumption (more on that in an upcoming article).
In Net Zero, oil, natural gas and coal by 2050 are used minimally by the end consumer, representing around 25% of final energy use. In 2018, these three sources represented around 75% of the energy directly consumed by households and firms.
Total final consumption
How much energy is required for the global economy to continue to grow and prosper depends on the extent to which it is possible to loosen the link between energy consumption and higher economic activity. This will require two developments:
Take a look at the Net Zero section in the Energy Outlook.
Explore the report, download the data or watch the replay of Spencer Dale's 2020 presentation