The “Energy Transition”: myth or reality?
Eni Natural Resources Milan, Italy
Published online: 22 November 2022
Rapid technological advances across a variety of industries are enabling society’s quest for sustainability. The resulting “Energy Transition” is causing an unprecedented shift in how the world’s population consumes energy and natural resources, driven by a range of factors including decarbonisation, economics, access to energy, societal expectations around environment and climate, energy eﬃciency, political and regulatory forces and emerging technologies. The “Energy Transition” will occur at diﬀerent speeds and shapes in diﬀerent geographies, depending on local economic and societal pressures. World energy demand is continuing to rise, mainly in the emerging economies of India, China and Africa, driven by population growth and economic development. Many countries are trying to do the “right thing” for their population and their economy and are not necessarily driven by a desire to “save the planet”. Maximising income to fund important social and education programmes is often higher in the priorities of some governments than reducing carbon emissions. The energy transition is not as simple as doing what is right for the planet. Governments, businesses and people in fossil fuel producing regions have shown that they will protect their economies despite the threat of environmental harm. The fossil fuel era will not be over soon. Despite the rapid growth in the use of renewable energy resources, in all reasonable scenarios there will still be a need for oil, gas and coal for the foreseeable future —if we are to meet the social and economic expectations of the world’s growing population. The energy mix will certainly change as we try to reduce carbon emissions, but the speed and magnitude of that change will depend heavily on national economic priorities, political will and public opinion. How fast can we realistically move towards a low carbon future and still meet the world’s growing demand for energy? What are the key constraints on the rate of change? —and what role will geoscientist play in driving and delivering the new energy solutions? The “Energy Transition” is a huge responsibility, but also a huge opportunity, one in which we all have our part to play.
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2022
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